Editor's Comment

Tree planting answer to forest depletion

ILLEGAL activities in our forests are a source of concern and rightly so because of their adverse effects on our environment and ultimately the economy.
A number of these activities involve the cutting down of trees, leaving our forests depleted of the needed flora to create a balance in our environment.
For a long time, there have been efforts to dissuade people from indiscriminately cutting down trees but it is disappointing that individuals who carry out these activities have not taken heed.
Even when laws to bring the culprits to book have been enacted, the practice of indiscriminately cutting down trees has continued, much to the disadvantage of all of us.
Now we have to contend with catastrophes like climate change, whose effects can either be floods or drought on the environment.
The result of the two extremes in the climate impacts negatively on food security, leaving communities starving and poorer.
During a national tree-planting exercise at Kabulonga Girls Secondary School yesterday, President Edgar Lungu expressed concern at the rate trees are being cut and he directed Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata to ensure that all perpetrators of illegal forestry-related activities are brought to book.
The President has also directed Ms Kapata to ensure that all timber extraction and other forestry-related activities are conducted within the provisions of the law.
The President also called for the strengthening of coordination and the enhancement of synergies between all relevant Government institutions and agencies to curb the rampant illegal activities.
One of the illegal activities that have gone on is the illegal cutting down of timber in our forests. The Zambian forests are teeming with one of the best hardwoods in the world but these have also become the much sought after products by illegal dealers.
The mukula, mukusi and muzauli and others are such trees which have been sought by the timber merchants, some of whom carry out illegal activities.
Going by reports we have carried, timber is still finding its way out of our country through illegal means even when there are in place officers to man the borders.
We agree with President Lungu in his call to strengthen co-ordination and enhancement of synergies to curb the illegal activities.
The need for all government organs to work together entails forming strong synergies that will thwart illegal activities in our forests and save large tracts of land from become treeless.
It is disheartening to learn that the country lost an average of 276,021 hectares of forests per year between 2000 and 2014. Like the President said, this rate of destruction is indeed worrying.
If it is allowed to continue, it will leave our children in a hopeless situation. We have to do something and we had better heed the call by the President to get involved in the replanting of trees as individuals. This is one of the most practical ways we can contribute to making our world a better place to live in.
Replanting trees at individual level also means we are taking responsibility in contributing to the development of our nation in a sustainable way.
Sustainable development demands that while we are meeting our needs now, by using what the environment offers us, like water and other natural resources, we should not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
We are not the only beneficiaries of what the environment offers, more generations that will come after us will still depend on the environment, for example, for resources like water and trees.
Let us, then, use our natural resources in a sustainable way and set an example for future generations. We will save ourselves from the harsh effects of climate change.

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