Editor's Comment

Don’t take trees for granted

LUSAKA has lately seen a number of development projects which have added beauty and value to the city.
In some instances, those who have come back to the city after a number of years have been surprised by the changed face of the city.
However, to this development, there could be a danger of not taking into consideration environmental sustainability of the area in which a project is being implemented and this can be disastrous in years to come.
With the many development projects around us, Zambia is at risk of depleting its natural resources, such as land, trees and rivers to make way for infrastructure. This depletion of the natural resources could have a negative impact on future generations.
Let us remember that when we are gone, there are many more generations that will come and they will depend on the same natural resources that make life around bearable.
It is in this regard that President Edgar Lungu on Friday advised that all development projects be implemented in a sustainable manner to preserve nature for the future generations.
The President, who was speaking when he commissioned the US$1.4 billion Kingsland City Development project in Ibex Hill last Friday, said he was happy that precautionary measures had been taken into consideration to make the project environmentally friendly.
Mr Lungu said the project, which is situated in Forest 27, has a healthy balance between infrastructure development and environmental protection.
The advice by Mr Lungu should be taken seriously by everyone because any adverse impact on the environment is felt by everyone.
Last year, Zambia and other African nations experienced a drought, which also resulted in a drastic reduction of water levels in rivers and lakes such as the Kariba, which is the major source for Zambia’s hydropower.
Environmental preservation is key to sustained rainfall, which not only ensures the filling up of rivers and lakes, but also keeps crop production going.
Zambians have this mistaken belief that the country has too many trees and the cutting down of “a few” would have little, if any, impact, on the environment.
Such thinking is understandable considering that indeed Zambia has many dense forests, some of which are inhabited. But this is skewed thinking. It is because of these dense forests that the country has whatever measure of rainfall that it gets. So why disturb this balance.
If anything, even as the inevitable concrete jungles come up, there must also be projects on planting trees. If this is not done simultaneously, Zambia could sooner than later become an arid country. This should not be allowed to happen.
Perhaps it is time that some regulation or law is put in place to compel anyone who cuts down a tree to plant two, or more, replacements. Those that do not have a site on which to plant the replacements should buy the plants and have them donated to institutions that have sites on which to plant them.
The rate at which large swathes of land are disappearing to give way for projects, both in rural and urban areas, is alarming and with the President’s advice, more practical efforts must be made to reverse the loss of trees.
It is not late for authorities that give out land to stipulate steps for environmental preservation in an effort to maintain a balanced ecosystem.
Traditional leaders are also key in the preservation of our natural environment.
The fact that they can give out land does not mean they should ignore the importance of preserving the natural environment in preference for the financial ephemeral benefit at the detriment of the future generations.
Zambians should be proud of their land, so it is important that it is indeed something to be proud of.

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