Mutare City Council and relevant stakeholders should formulate and implement by-laws that protect forests, which are being decimated at an alarming rate each time new suburbs are established, Government has said.
In a speech read on her behalf by the deputy director in her office, Mr Terrence Machocho, at a tree planting ceremony held in Ward 13 last Friday, Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Cde Mandi Chimene urged Mutare to save trees by using offcuts from timber plantations for firewood, instead of cutting down new trees.
The ceremony was attended by officials from Forestry Commission, Mutare City Council, the Environmental Management Agency, New Start, Nyaradzo Funeral Services, Destiny for Africa Network, Government and residents from Chikanga and surrounding areas.
“There is need for Mutare urban to take advantage of the off-cuts from commercial timber plantations to provide energy for domestic use rather than use our indigenous trees that take time to grow and have cultural significance to our lives. It is sad that Zimbabwe is losing forests at a rate never seen before through deforestation. The major drivers of deforestation are brick moulding, charcoal making, firewood selling and use of fuelwood for cooking,” said Minister Chimene.
Minister Chimene reminded people that Manicaland was the hub of the forestry industry that supplied the whole nation with all its timber-based requirements and it was crucial for everybody in the province to make sure trees were protected and new ones were planted.
“Trees provide direct and indirect benefits, which include firewood, sawn timber, pulpwood, building material, wood for crafts, fodder, fruits, honey, mushrooms, madora, bark for ropes, medicines, watershed protection, arrest development of gullies, provide windbreaks, climate change mitigation, prevention of soil erosion, wildlife habitat, property value appreciation and the general beauty of our landscape,” she said.
“Forests are a source of food for our communities in the form of fruits, which are nutritionally rich. Over 60 percent of our people depend on forests in one way or the other for their livelihoods. They provide effective safety nets to households in times of food shortages such as droughts. For many of our local communites, the loss of forests means the loss of goods and services that forests provide, which reduces their means of livelihoods options, particularly during challenging times such as droughts.”
Mutare Ward 13 councillor, Cde Wellington Zambezi, said the tree planting exercise was part of his ward’s programmes to rehabilitate the environment battered by human activities.
“This is a day we have set aside as a ward to try and restore what our environment has lost. It will be observed every year. We are targeting to plant 1 200 trees today and 5 000 this year. The trees will be planted along Magamba Road so that we create very beautiful scenery, as well as allow residents to breathe fresh air from the trees,” he said.