BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE Zunde ramambo/isiphala seNkosi tree planting initiative launched over five years ago has paid dividends for the Forestry Commission’s communal conservation exercise with the commission having planted over 12 million trees during the current rainy season.
The Zunde raMambo/Isiphala seNkosi was launched as a gateway to communities to make them appreciate the importance of tree planting and have a sense of ownership of forests, to curb deforestation.
Riding on the success of the programme and its reception by communities, Forestry Commission has planted 12,075 million trees nationwide from the start of the current rainy season out of a target of 15 million at the close of the season.
Forestry Commission spokesperson Violet Makoto on Friday confirmed the new development adding that her organisation was targeting to reach the 15 million mark at the end of this month.
“We have so far planted 12,075 million trees to date out of our 15 million target for the 2018/2019 planting season. However, we were left hanging around February due to the changes in the rainy season, but we are hoping that with the tree planting exercises we are doing in schools we will reach the target at the end of March,” Makoto said.
She said the Zunde raMambo/Isiphala seNkosi programme in which they were giving traditional leaders trees to plant in their areas of jurisdiction has paid dividends as communities were now valuing forests.
“This is a historical programme we launched as a gateway to our programme of afforestation in communities so that communities have a sense of ownership, as a strategy to preserve our forests. The programme has worked and up to now in all our programmes we involve the traditional leadership so that we maintain that relationship and preserve our forests,” she said.
Makoto urged communities to plant trees in their areas and said those who could not plant trees should preserve the existing forests by desisting from indiscriminately cutting down trees.
She said her organisation, has various programmes to empower communities and draw their attention from cutting down trees for cash, and has introduced beekeeping, sustainable macimbi/madora (mopane worm) harvesting and adding value to wild fruits.
The commission has allayed desertification fears in the country saying it has managed to strike a balance between deforestation and afforestation.
Government aims to grow 50 million trees in five to 10 years, the same number of trees that are lost each year.
The Forestry Commission has mechanisms in place to follow up on trees planted during each planting season to assess progress.