Afforestation programme in Mutasa under threat

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MUTARE — The Zimbabwe Forestry Commission and the Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources (Safire) have joined forces in Mutasa district to fight invasive alien pests threatening to ravage eucalyptus trees, planted as part of an ambitious afforestation programme.

BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

Safire field officer, Hardley Taziva said they were working in partnership with Environment Africa to curb three major diseases — glycapsis (red lerp psyllid), leptocybe invasa (blue gum chalcid) and thaumastocoris (bronze bug) — that posed a high risk to thousands of acres of eucalyptus trees.

The disease is prevalent in wards 11, 12, 19 and 20 of Mutasa district.

“This is affecting growth (of the eucalyptus) trees and its a national disaster,” Taziva said.

“We’ve tried to mitigate this problem through a biological control pesticide from Australia called Neseri.”

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He said South Africa was able to contain the problem and they were hoping the success story could be replicated in Zimbabwe, adding the extremely high temperatures being experienced in the country were contributing to the emergence of the new diseases.

ZFC official, Tanner Magedo said the government had engaged some partners to help contain the rage.

He said they deliberately took their time, as they wanted to ensure the new pesticides would not create new problems.

“Our position was that what if these pesticides attack chickens and cattle? But we are sure we will manage to control these diseases,” he said. “We are trying out best to make sure we control the pests at the seedling stage.”

The disease is said to have migrated from Australia through travellers carrying luggage and souvenirs.

The intervention project by Forest Forces, a partnership bankrolled by the European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, is expected to curb the problem.

1 COMMENT

  1. It is interesting that you write of invasive species, as if the eucalyptus itself is not foreign. The eucalyptus or gum tree is not good for water bodies, and in areas like Mutasa, the situation can become worse. SAFIRE should not get involved in this. Eucalyptus is not indigenous.

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