Zimbabwe: Replanting the Answer to Deforestation
Tree planting efforts are welcome in Zimbabwe, a country that is believed to be losing as much as 330 000 hectares of forest cover per annum. But are all the re-planting efforts by the Forestry Commission and Nyaradzo Funeral Services, among other participants, proving to be worth the effort?
But are all the re-planting efforts by the Forestry Commission and Nyaradzo Funeral Services, among other participants, proving to be worth the effort?
Zimbabwe used to be characterised in many areas by dense forests, which were home to a variety of bird and animal life.
Back in the old days, some traditional communities even considered some forests to be sacred. I remember hearing a tale about how people would get lost, never to be found, when they ventured into some "sacred" forest. But that was then, when people put value on forests. Today paints a totally different picture.
If one is to travel along a highway they last travelled a decade ago, the experience would not be as pleasant as before. Today, the trees that once enveloped the landscape have been replaced by stretches of degraded bare land. In fact, today Zimbabwe is battling deforestation. The effects of years of rampant cutting down of trees are now clearly showing.
The destruction of the forests has taken away not only the trees -- the oldest living organisms and our main source of oxygen -- but it also took away what used to be the habitat for many living organisms that include birds, insects, wildlife, etc.
Deforestation in the country had a lot to do with the economic turn of fortunes that left Zimbabwe's economy on its knees.
Electricity, which had come to be viewed by urban dwellers as a basic need in their homes, fast turned into a luxury that many had to go for hours on end without. Firewood for many was the immediate solution to their energy woes.
As the electricity deficit situation further deteriorated, more firewood was required. Selling firewood became a lucrative venture and it became common to see bundles of firewood, mostly from indigenous trees, being sold along all the country's major highways.
Most of the indigenous trees that were senselessly cut down had taken an average of 35 years or even more to reach maturity.
BY CHIPO MUSARA, 13 OCTOBER 2013
Wilderness, South Africa