Minister tips West on green economy, climate change
Published On February 4, 2022 » 2497 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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. Nzovu

Green Economy and Environment Minister Collins Nzovu recently visited Western Province where he introduced the role of his newly created ministry and sensitized people on the need for a green economy as well as the importance of mitigating effects of climate change which to date has brought about misery to human and wildlife.
In this story written by PERPETUAL SICHIKWENKWE, the minister outlines the mission of his ministry, its objectives and why he is seeking support from the people in the province, to assist Government to address vices of corruption in the forestry industry, such as illegal timber harvesting, indiscriminate cutting of trees for charcoal burning and other activities.
Permanent settlements thrive across 120 hectares of forest in the encroached Kaande National Forest in Mongu, Western Province.
When Green Economy and Environment Minister Collins Nzovu visited Kaande Forest, he expressed concern that 120 hectares of Calyptus forest has been lost.
He said the forest is very important to the people of Mongu because it protects two very important rivers, Kaande and Kambole.
Mr Nzovu said that what is happening is cause for concern.
“The start of the river, the springs that were heading into that river are almost gone. I have also been told that Mongu is experiencing water shortages too,” he said.
Mr Nzovu said the area is said to have 840 hectares of forest, but physically, the forest is all gone and the community has lost some rivers.
He said there is need to protect the forest because they provide water.
“What is also shocking and worrying is that this plantation, which would have maintained the river sources, was basically carelessly shared by Patriotic Front (PF) cadres,” he said.
The plantation, which is also has a Game Management Area (GMA) in the vicinity, appears to be virtually extinct as settlements have take root where a forestry reserve should have been!
The minister said the development is worrisome to Government.
The minister also expressed surprise that the whole area, including the river banks, is occupied.
“How many more forests are we going to lose to encroachment? How much more damage is going to be made while we sit and watch?” Mr Nzovu asked.
He told the settlers that they were negatively affecting the tourism potential in Zambia and urged them to look around where once impalas roamed freely but the species had now left the area.
He explained that chiefs would not defend anyone because they have their own land to give out but not game park land.
Mr Nzovu urged the settlers to realise that GMAs were meant for animals.
He said areas for human habitation were called settlements.
Some illegal settlers wondered why the Government wanted to evict them from the area to pave way for animals and the period Government was giving them to move out of the forests and GMA.
Mr Nzovu further said effects of climate change were already being felt and would continue to be felt.
He said that is the reason why the Government and other stakeholders wanted to find a solution to curb vices which led to climate change and affect the environment.
He warned that the climate change effects would get worse if nothing is done to stop activities that are detrimental to the environment.
Climate change involves not only rising temperatures, but also extreme weather events, rising sea levels, shifting wildlife populations and inhabitants and a range of other effects.
It includes harsh weather events such as tropical storm Ana, which has hit nations such as Mozambique and already affecting Zambia too.
The minister said the current situation worldwide calls for concerted efforts to put measures in place and reduce the impact of climate change on both humanity and wildlife by stopping the indiscriminating cutting of trees for charcoal burning and other activities.
The minister, who started his tour of Western Province by paying a courtesy call to Kaoma District Commissioner Kashina Muyambango, said he was in the province to introduce his new Green Economy and Environment ministry.
He expressed concern about the illegal activities that had become rampant in the timber trade.
He warned civil servants against taking advantage of the illegalities in the trade and harvesting of timber.
Ms Muyambango echoed the minister’s concerns that there were too many illegalities in the timber industry.
She said her office is doing everything possible to stop the vice.
Mr Nzovu also inspected wood manufacturing companies like Sikale Sikale Wood Manufacturer Limited, Handson Investments, and Kiliwood Manufacturers where he warned about companies engaging in illegal timber trading .
The minister said Government would not tolerate any illegal dealing from timber companies of buying illegal timber.
He said Zambians, who are the owners of the resources, are not benefiting from the timber harvesting and trade.
The minister also inspected weather stations in Kaoma and Mongu where he announced Government’s plan to increase the number of the stations for purposes of fighting effects of climate change and provide weather alerts.
Mr Nzovu said there is need to increase the number of weather stations because they help to take precautionary measures against destructive weather events such as heavy rainfall, strong winds and floods and help people to cope with climate change.
“We want to underscore the importance of weather stations here and we request your office honorable minister to assist in taking care of weather stations ,” he said when he paid a courtesy call on Western Province Minister Kapelwa Mbangweta.
Mr Nzovu and his entourage further inspected a honey factory at the Kaoma district forestry office.
He took the opportunity to announce Government’s intentions to use the honey industry as an option to wean people from engaging in charcoal burning and cutting of trees.
The minister said the New Dawn Government is eager to find ways of ensuring that the honey project, which is currently not operational, is resuscitated so as to stop people from dealing in charcoal burning.
Kaoma District Forest Officer Kelvin Nyamukusu said the honey project is in the process of being revamped.
Mr Nyamukusu said the project is expected to create employment to the youths and would reduce the cutting of trees as people would shift to the processing of honey.
Mr Nzovu also visited Sioma and Sesheke districts in Western Province where he inspected a number of places.
Her also held a meeting with concession licence holders and timber merchants where a number of issues were raised.
The traders told the minister that it is not easy to sell timber because of the unregulated prices.
They said there is need for the Government to intervene and come up with a uniform price for timber to help the traders.
Zambia Association of Timber and Forestry Based Industries president Limbekuma Musole said the timber trade if fraught with illegal activities.
Mr Musole said it is for that reason that the traders want the Government to re-introduce the old system of issuing licences which also allowed traditional leaders to monitor where and how traders were getting timber.
He said this discouraged illegal timber trading.
Mr Nzovu later paid a courtesy call on the Litunga and the senior Kuta in Sioma where he also sensitized traditional leaders on environmental issues and asked for their support.
On his way back to Lusaka, Mr Nzovu made stopover in the Kafue National Park to check on encroachers in the GMA.
He found that 46 families had invaded the forest and were putting up temporary grass thatched and mud structures in the Kafue National Park in Mumbwa district.
The families were also cutting down trees with impunity.
Mr Nzovu warned that the families risked losing their fields which he said would be destroyed.
He further said the families would be evicted from the area.
Mr Nzovu said it is illegal for people to live in an area meant for animals.
He said the Government would no longer allow such illegalities.
Mr Nzovu also inspected other places in Nalusanga area in Mumbwa, which have been encroached.
The minister said he was aware that to the illegal settlers, going into GMAs was business.
He said some headmen were creating villages in reserved areas.
It remains to be seen how the green crusade would unfold in the Government’s quest to arrest environmental degradation and protect wildlife through relocation of settlers in vast areas that were recently toured by the minister.
It also remains to be seen how the new ministry of Green Economy and Environment would spearhead job creation while safeguarding the country from adverse effects of climate change.

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