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Stop timber plunder

PRESIDENT Lungu is alarmed at the rate trees are being cut down and has directed Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata to ensure prosecution of all perpetrators of illegal harvesting of forestry resources.
The President has also directed Ms Kapata to ensure all timber extraction and other forestry-related activities are conducted within the provisions of the law.
He said this at Kabulonga Girls Secondary School in Lusaka yesterday when he officially launched the annual national tree planting exercise.
“I will personally follow up on this directive to ensure that it is being implemented. We need to strengthen coordination and enhance synergies between all relevant government institutions and agencies to curb the rampant illegal activities,” President Lungu said.
He said it is worrisome that Zambia lost an average of 276,021 hectares of forests per year between 2000 and 2014.
The President is aware that there is a lot of illegal harvesting of timber across the country resulting in reduced forest cover.
“The destruction of forests, coupled with excessive settlement and other human activities, lead to uncontrolled severe soil erosion, high sediment load and subsequent siltation of hydro-electric dams and decreased river flow,” he said.
President Lungu said the trees cut can only be replaced by re-planting, which requires the active involvement of all stakeholders.
The President appealed to traditional leaders to help Government in mobilising communities to actively participate in forestry regeneration activities.
Earlier, Ms Kapata said her ministry is implementing measures to sustain management of trees in the country and this includes tree planting.
President Lungu and his entourage each planted a tree at the school and interacted with the pupils and their teachers.
And the Department of Forestry in Northern Province will this year plant over 35,000 seedlings of pine trees on over 20 hectares of land, Provincial Minister Brian Mundubile has said.
Mr Mundubile said the region will also replant trees on 40 hectares on land.