From George Maponga in BIKITA
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has bemoaned rampant deforestation and degradation of forests countrywide, and called on the nation to plant trees and preserve forests in order to help mitigate effects of climate change such as recurrent droughts.
Amai Mnangagwa decried wanton logging of trees for firewood among other reasons blamed for a national deforestation toll of 280 000 hectares annually.
She said this in a speech read on her behalf at Mandara Primary School by Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira to officially mark the pre-national tree planting day campaign for 2020.
National Tree Planting Day is marked on the first Saturday of December annually with President Mnangagwa leading in the tree planting ceremonies.
Amai Mnangagwa decided to add impetus to the ongoing reforestation programme by initiating National Tree Planting day pre-launches every year. This year, the tree chosen and which was planted by Minister Chadzamira on behalf of the First Lady, traditional chiefs led by Chief Mazungunye at Mandara Primary School is the Baobab.
Amai Mnangagwa, who is patron for the Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry teamed up with the Forestry Commission to embark on National Tree Planting Day annual pre-launches, after noting that deforestation was eating away the country’s forests.
She said her nationwide tours for her philanthropic work through the Angel of Hope Foundation had exposed her to the obtaining alarming rate of deforestation.
“Zimbabwe is grappling with a deforestation rate that stands at an alarming 280 000ha per annum and tree planting remains the primary response to addressing this challenge,” she said.
“I am committed to advocate, teach and lead in this pre-national tree planting day commemoration campaign in all provinces ahead of the national launching ceremony to be conducted by His Excellency the President on the first Saturday of December 2020.”
Amai Mnangagwa appealed to those in leadership positions to demonstrate environmental stewardship for the nation to appreciate the need to conserve trees and forests. She noted that development of forest resources augured well for both urban and rural communities who would benefit from them. A case in point was the Nerumedzo Woodland in Bikita which is famous for the harurwa delicacy.
The First Lady underscored the importance of the recent introduction of a new curriculum in schools which incorporated agro forestry studies saying it was a harbinger for creating a nation that values the importance of conserving trees and forests.
“I wish to point out that agro-forestry, tree planting and sustainable forest management are key ingredients to reducing climate change impacts such as droughts that are becoming a common feature in our country. This is largely because of the ability of trees to absorb and store considerable amounts of carbon during their lifetime,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa lamented the proliferation of illegal firewood vending on roadsides of major roads and highways in the country. She urged traditional leaders and Government officials to end this rampant practice.
Trees and forests, said the First Lady, could play a key role in engendering socio-economic development within communities if they were used sustainably.
“As we are implementing the devolution policy, I encourage you all to start developing the raw material base for food industry and other products in form of fruit trees orchards which will be processed into various products such as beverages, canned fruits, body lotions and spreads,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
Minister Chadzamira thanked the Second Republic for implementing programmes that uplifted lives of ordinary people.