Forestry firms urged to co-exist with villagers

via Forestry firms urged to co-exist with villagers – NewsDay Zimbabwe. 21 June 2014 by Obey Manayiti


PLAYERS in the forestry sector have been urged to co-exist with surrounding villagers and stop accusing them of invading and burning their plantations without addressing their grievances.


Every year, there are reports of veld fires destroying hundreds of timber plantations in Manicaland, while on the other hand illegal gold panners have besieged forestry plantations in parts of Chimanimani.

Some villagers in Chimanimani are also running endless battles with Allied Timbers as the timber producing company accuses them of illegally settling on its land.

Addressing stakeholders during a meeting on Forests Sustainably Managed for Communities, Environment and Shocked Resilience (Forest Forces) , Manicaland provincial administrator Fungai Mbetsa said it was important for players in the forestry sector to be responsive to the community needs to avoid conflict.

“We cannot talk of harmony when you have not addressed the community’s concerns. We will continue having these projects without success if you fail to live well with the people surrounding you,” Mbetsa said.

“Every year, there are court cases against your neighbours on invasion, but that is not the solution. This is why I am asking whether the Forest Forces programme has anything to do with this conflict. Before we call them illegal settlers or gold panners, there is need for engagement so that you here their side as well.”

He said surrounding communities might not be happy of not directly benefiting from the plantations and urged forestry players to establish ways in which the community might benefit through programmes such as Campfire.

Chimanimani district administrator Wilson Bore weighed in saying: “Our policies are running parallel in the case of the land reform and the Forestry Act. They should be harmonised and make the companies and the communities appreciate each other. The issue of engagement is very important to stop these problems.”

Others participants called on forestry companies to set up a community share ownership trust so that villagers can directly and indirectly benefit from the sector.

Plantation forests are approximately 168 000 hectares comprising pines, eucalyptus and wattle.

Bore said the area planted under exotic timber in Zimbabwe had been declining since 10 years ago due to reduced planting, fire outbreaks, illegal conversion of forest land among other adverse factors.

Abedinigo Mafuri, from Forestry Commission, said the Forest Forces was being implemented in eight districts in Zimbabwe and targeted to improve food security of vulnerable rural communities through participatory sustainable management.

He lamented the low priority accorded to forestry sector as well as the inadequate funding to the sector.



  • comment-avatar
    Gomogranny 8 years ago

    The days of the Timber Plantations destroying entire ecosystems to plant monocultures of trees not suited to our water scarce and fire prone environment are over. Gum, wattle and pine plantations should be kept to a minimum and managed in such a way that a variety of benefits are derived from the vast areas they inhabit. Compatible wildlife and tourism projects should be integrated with the involvement of surrounding communities. Timber Companies need to engage – or burn. Identifying and protecting a number of critically important indigenous trees which may not be removed when planting these aliens (all fruiting trees for starters)is a priority. Additionally there should be an immiediate moratorium on the poisoning of baboons and killing of wildlife on these plantations. Innovative thinking required by all.

    • comment-avatar
      goffrey c 8 years ago

      If they burn so will the economy, all timber for construction and industrial inputs will have to be imported from those wise enough to protect their forests. Importing timber products is very expensive. Its not child play so please we have to be wise for our children’ sake.

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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    If you grow timber on your land it is nobodies business but your own. Surrounding villagers should get off their bums and make something of themselves without preying on those who work.

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    exmanica 8 years ago

    I was chatting to an elderly gentleman in 1975 who had enjoyed a lifetime working in the timber industry in Sothern Africa.

    He told me that over a period of about 20 years he had been making a comfortable living exploiting large volumes of Mukwa in Botswana. I said that I didn’t realise that there was so much hardwood in Botswana. His reply was – “there was before I arrived”.
    I sincerely hope that the same will not be said by the current ZANU PF custodians of Zimbabwe in a few years time.

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    munzwa 8 years ago

    All the more reason to have a sustainable land “reform” program and the implementation of the rule of law with out fear or FAVOUR….Surely if you own land, by title or lease you have the law there to help you to protect that right…

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 8 years ago