The Forestry Commission has allayed desertification fears in the country saying it has managed to strike a balance between deforestation and afforestation.
BY Stephen Chadenga
The commission’s spokesperson, Violet Makoto, yesterday told Southern Eye that they were always monitoring the situation to ensure the tree cutting rate does not exceed reforestation programmes.
Over the years, there have been fears from different stakeholders that parts of the country, particularly the southern region would turn into a desert.
“We have two different extremes, one where people are aware of the importance of trees and are actually planting them,” Makoto said on the sidelines of a consultative workshop for the first draft of the National Forest Policy in Gweru yesterday.
“On the other hand, we have economic hardships forcing people to resort to forests as sources of energy. But whatever is happening we are managing to strike a balance between what we are losing (through deforestation) and what we are putting back into the environment.”
The forestry policy seeks, among other things, to provide a basis for the crafting of forestry regulations that are consistent and comprehensive for the long-term sustainable use of forests and for the participation of people who depend on forests for their livelihoods.
Makoto said a major factor, contributing to deforestation were energy challenges the country was facing, which forces the majority of people in urban and rural setups to resort to firewood as a source of energy.
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She also said the rise in tobacco farming activities and clearing of forests for settlements also caused deforestation, although she pointed out that there were programmes for the different sectors on how best to combat the cutting down of trees.
“There is little investment towards alternative sources of energy, people talk of solar energy, but how many access that energy for domestic use and so people will resort to the nearest solution and that is cutting down trees for domestic consumption,” she said.
“But all the same we are working very hard to make sure that we don’t reach that stage we can be said to be a desert.”
Zimbabwe loses about 330 000 hectares of forests every year due to deforestation.