Lusaka, 15th December, 2017…”Plant trees to grow the economy sustainably “is the theme for the 2017/2018 national tree planting exercise.
The exercise which runs from 15th December to 31st January of the following year is a government initiative which is aimed at promoting tree planting by individuals, communities, and organizations including the private sector.
Speaking during a televised launch on ZNBC TV 1, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Jean Kapata said the theme for the 2017/2018 planting season is “plant trees to grow the economy sustainably.” is in line with the Seventh National Development Plan whose theme is “accelerating development efforts towards the vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind.”
According to the integrated land use assessment report launched in march 2017 the total forest area in the country is estimated at forty four million hectares covering fifty eight point seven percent (58.7%) of the total land surface area. the total growing stock is estimated at three billion cubic meters distributed across the country of which the highest proportion was found in North-Western Province and the lowest in Lusaka Province.
Forest products significantly contribute to household incomes in forest dependent communities, particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, the contribution of non-wood forest products such as mushroom, wild fruits, honey and plant medicines to people’s livelihoods cannot be overemphasized.
Forests provide raw materials to the processing industry and contribute to employment and wealth creation. It is for this reason that the Seventh National Development Plan has provided for strategic interventions for forestry and furniture industry development in order to accelerate job creation that would eliminate social exclusion faced by the majority of the people who are unskilled and have had no employment opportunities for decades.
In this regard, the government, under the leadership of His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu the President of the Republic of Zambia, has a vision to grow the economy by creating a strong base for wealth generation, employment creation and poverty reduction through increased industrialization and trade in key sectors such as forestry.
Zambia is currently losing forest cover at an alarming rate. The integrated land use assessment conducted between 2010 and 2016 estimated the deforestation rate to be at an average of two hundred seventy-six thousand twenty-one (276,021) hectares per year. This is mainly attributed to agricultural expansion, timber extraction, bush fires, mining and infrastructure development. The loss of forest cover and degradation of forest areas needs to be reversed. Tree planting is therefore one such activity that would reverse deforestation for the benefit of the current and future generations.
Starting this tree planting season, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of General Education and other partners is embarking on a programme called: “Zambia-plant a million trees.” This programme will work with existing partners to accelerate and scale-up tree planting activities targeting public schools, colleges and universities.
Forests are a renewable natural resource which, with prudent management, can sustain the country in perpetuity as long as we continue planting trees in areas where none exist and restock areas with reduced forest cover, including our back yards and small holdings.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources recently completed the development of a national strategy to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the forest investment plan. The investment plan has two core investment priorities which are:
- Resilient landscapes, sustainable agriculture and energy, with the aim to restore and rehabilitate forest areas. The major activities will be promotion of sustainable agriculture, tree planting, natural regeneration, efficient biomass energy and promotion of enterprises to increase household incomes; and
- Conservation and management of high value forest areas, which aims at providing support to the conservation of existing forests through innovative ways using an integrated and holistic approach.
Once these programmes are implemented, the country will have contributed its share in the reduction of green house gases that are responsible for global warming with its adverse effects to mother earth.
Government is aware that some private individuals, non-governmental organizations (Ngos), faith based organizations and companies are raising seedlings of different tree species for greening mother zambia. To such individuals and organizations, we say thank you and may you continue with this noble cause. To those who are on the periphery, i wish to call upon you to join this noble task so that as a nation we can contribute significantly to the mitigation of global warming in this global village. We shall thus be able to renew the vitality of our land that we so much depend on for our survival.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all those individuals, Ngos, academia, the private sector and indeed our co-operating partners for the valuable contributions you are making to revitalize the forestry sector. I want to assure you that your contributions are not in vain but will go a long way in complementing government’s efforts.
I am therefore, urging all youths, women and men to participate in this noble cause of tree planting activities that shall run from tomorrow, 15th December through 31st January 2018. I challenge all forest concession license holders and forest dependant industries to actively take up tree planting as their core activity in order to replenish the diminishing valuable tree species such as the Mukula which has in the recent past come under severe threat due to illegal harvesting.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, has therefore lined up a number of activities that will culminate in the ceremonial planting of a variety of tree species at Ndubulula in Rufunsa District of Lusaka Province on 18th January 2018.
With these few remarks, it is my rare privilege and honour to declare the 2017/2018 national tree planting season officially launched