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State urged to compel public to plant trees

PHILIP CHISALU, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT intends to introduce legislation which will compel the public to plant at least two trees for each tree cut to help preserve water catchment areas.
Outgoing Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection permanent secretary Barnaby Mulenga said there is need to immediately identify and preserve water catchment areas in line with the Environmental Management Act of 2011 and Forests Act of 2015.
Mr Mulenga said this during a presentation at the water crisis consultative meeting recently.
He said once the legislation is put in place, it will help reduce on the high levels of deforestation in the country as Zambia is ranked third globally in deforestation.
“There is need to protect forests because they support river systems in the country, and it is of great importance for watershed and soil conservation,” he said.
Mr Mulenga said the ministry has since embarked on an aggressive reforestation programme with help from stakeholders.
Forests act as catchment areas that supply water to various water bodies such as streams, lakes, and, subsequently, to the dams.
Mr Mulenga called on stakeholders to take keen interest in tree-planting programmes as trees avert water  crises.
“Forests also play an important role in the hydrological cycle. In areas without trees, most of the rainwater run off but in areas that have trees, they capture water and it goes to the ground and later evaporates, thus completing the hydrological cycle,” he said.
He said Government will continue promoting sustainable management of the forests through the engagement of various players in the forestry sector.