By REBECCA MUSHOTA -
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed the ministry of Lands, Environment and Natural Resources to closely supervise the timber business so as to mitigate the fast depleting forests.
President Lungu said that Zambia was fast losing trees in the forests annually because of the indiscriminate cutting of trees which was mainly driven by the timber production industry.
Mr Lungu said that from 2000 to 2014, Zambia was losing over 270,000 hectares of forestry annually.
There was, therefore, need to regulate timber production to mitigate and reverse the unfortunate situation.
The President said this yesterday at the annual tree planting exercise for the 2017/2018 season.
The event was held at Kabulonga Girls Secondary School in Lusaka with the theme ‘Advancing the role of regeneration in forest restoration’.
“I am directing you minister of Environment and Natural Resources Jean Kapata to ensure that the timber extraction is conducted within the Forestry Act.
“Ensure that perpetrators are brought to book. The Police are there to help you,” Mr Lungu said.
He said the Forestry Act of 2014 provided for the proper way of cutting trees and replenishing of trees.
Mr Lungu said he was aware that trees had multiple purposes which include provision of energy, support of the manufacturing industry as well as sustaining the environment.
Zambian trees were also on high demand on the local and international market.
However, due to agriculture expansion and uncontrolled tree cutting, the forests were fast depleting leading to soil erosion.
Mr Lungu said that timber production also had huge potential to create jobs and wealth.
He said Government had adopted a National Forestry Policy to promote value addition of timber as well as preserve forests.
Mr Lungu said Government was discouraging export of unprocessed timber and encouraging coordination in timber extraction industry.
“All must get involved in preserving forests by planting trees. As we say, ‘cut a tree and plant three and ‘stop talking and start planting,” he said.
Ms Kapata said the ministry would this season plant 500,000 seedlings of trees countrywide.
She said annually, each district would plant 20 hectares of trees.
A pupil of Kabulonga Girls Pangela Namonje said that the presence of the President at the event was inspiring and that President Lungu gave girls hope when he appointed Inonge Wins as Vice-President of Zambia.
The President at the event led ministers and diplomats in planting a tree each at the school.