Tree planting an integral part of Muzarabani Muzarabani has this year planted 450 000 Eucalyptus trees, also known as gum trees, under the Tobacco Wood Energy programme.

Fungai Lupande-Mashonaland Central Bureau

People in Muzarabani district have adopted tree planting as an integral part of their everyday life, a development that has seen massive planting of fruit trees and woodlots.

The district is part of the three-quarters of rural households nationwide estimated to harvest wild fruits from forests for livelihood and nutritional needs.

Muzarabani has this year planted 450 000 Eucalyptus trees, also known as gum trees, under the Tobacco Wood Energy programme.

This year’s International Day of Forests, commemorated on March 21 this year, was celebrated in Muzarabani in recognition of sterling work in replenishing and preserving forests.

Environment and Tourism patron, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, was praised for instilling the culture of planting trees in Muzarabani.

Mrs Jane Kagodo from Chinowara village said the First Lady visited Chinyani Secondary School with her tree planting programme.

“The First Lady encouraged us to plant trees to curb deforestation,” she said. “We have now adopted the culture of planting trees. Centenary lost its forest cover due to tobacco farming and we have realised that deforestation poses many challenges for our communities.”

A tobacco farmer at Plot 1, Westherm Farm, in Centenary, Mr Wonder Mushore, has planted gum trees on one hectare.

He said although the community had stopped cutting down indigenous trees and turned to coal, the damage had already been done.

“Contracting companies provide us with coal, but it is not enough,” he said. “We cannot continue cutting down trees without replacing them.

“I am working with the Forestry Commission in planting woodlots. Gum trees are fast-growing trees and we are expecting a double benefit as we will also get poles for construction purposes.

“We experience whirlwinds and this woodlot will provide a cover against wind. This is a good programme; trees beautify the environment and they have many benefits. It is our belief that trees attract good rainfall. In the flood plains in the lower valley, trees will help in reducing the severity of floods.”

Dr Chipangura Chirara, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) 6 project manager, urged people in Muzarabani to jealously guard their forests.

He said GEF6 is supporting reafforestation and anti-poaching activities in Mbire, Muzarabani and northern parts of Hurungwe.

“We are working with local authorities, EMA, Forestry Commission, ZimParks and the Ministry of Environment in the conservation of forests through the Zambezi valley biodiversity program,” he said.

“We are supporting nine non-governmental organisations through provision of small grants. We are supporting three beekeepers’ associations so that they can establish honey processing centres. We have constructed three big nurseries and our expectation is to plant 2,2 million ingenious trees on 6 000 hectares.

“We bought 21 vehicles, 11 tractors and hay baling equipment. We have helped communities in construction of biogas and energy efficiency stoves.”

Dr Chirara said they established an energy efficient tobacco ban in Hurungwe.

He advised people in Muzarabani to desist from making charcoal, saying charcoal buyers were passers-by who left forests depleted as they moved to other areas.

Forestry Commission operations manager Mr Lewis Radzire said they were working with willing farmers and the response in Muzarabani had been overwhelming.

“Our target in Muzarabani was 650 000 trees, but we managed to plant 450 000, we are almost there,” he said. “We are working with schools, farmers and the community in creating woodlots.

“Our expectation is that in a few years farmers will be able to use the woodlots to cure tobacco and release pressure on our indigenous trees.

“With help from the GEF 6 project we have established four central seedling producing nurseries in the province and smaller nurseries close to communities.”

Mr Radzire stressed the need to protect the woodlot against veld fire by creating proper fire guards.

Guest of honour, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu, said public awarenesses instil a greater sense of responsibility towards the environment.

Minister Ndlovu, who was represented by the ministry’s communications manager Ms Nora Takaendesa, said three-quarters of rural households nationwide harvested wild fruits from forests.

He said the International Day of Forests came after the tree planting season in Zimbabwe.

“This presents a good opportunity to create awareness on the need to look after the newly-planted trees to ensure their survival,” he said. “As a country we are losing our forest resources at an average rate of 262 000 hectares per year in the past decade. It has become imperative that we devote more efforts in halting and reversing deforestation.”

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Monica Mavhunga, said the province was targeting to produce 10 million tree seedlings annually.

She said this will help in improving food security in all households.

Minister Mavhunga was represented by Director Provincial Coordination, Mr Cosmas Chiringa.

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