PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has called for the adoption of impactful measures that mitigate against activities that threaten forest integrity, among them increasing the area under protected natural forests and plantations as well as intensifying assisted natural regeneration.
In a speech read on his behalf by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga at the National Tree Planting Day and launch of the 2023-2024 tree planting season at Domborutinhira Secondary School in Mutasa District last Saturday, President Mnangagwa, said there is also need to put in place measures to minimise the risk of loss of forests to fires.
“We are currently in the United Nations-proclaimed Decade on Ecosystem Restoration which runs from 2021 to 2030. Government will continue to promulgate policies and programmes that promote the United Nations’ environmental goals and to facilitate global cooperation for the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems, while fostering efforts to combat climate change, safeguard biodiversity, food security and water supply.
“Our commitment to ecosystems restoration will not succeed if we do not acknowledge that trees and forests are a critical component of terrestrial ecosystems, and that, it is important to establish, conserve and protect these forest resources that provide a wide array of ecosystem goods and services.
‘‘These are the critical targets that Government has deliberately enshrined in our National Development Strategy (NDS1),” said President Mnangagwa.
The launch was done under the theme: “Trees and Forests for Ecosystem Restoration and Improved Livelihoods”.
This year’s tree of the year is the Fever Acacia Tree, also known as Muunga in Shona and Umkhanyakude in Ndebele.
“As per tradition, we have our tree of the Year 2023 which is being promoted as a way of spreading knowledge on our indigenous tree species.
‘‘This season, we are promoting the widespread planting of the Fever Acacia tree which is of the Muunga family of trees. In Ndebele, it is known as Umkhanyakude because of its beauty which anyone can observe from afar. It is an important tree which fits well into agro forestry systems because of its soil enrichment attributes. It is also the tree of choice in the ongoing beautification of towns and cities programme,” said President Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe has already developed the National Forest Policy which recognises the forestry sector as an important component of the country’s economy that needs to be well coordinated.
President Mnangagwa said the National Forest Policy is meant to ensure that forests contribute effectively to national development, local economies and environmental protection, including climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“Our National Forest Policy emphasises the need to put in place strategies to continually revitalise, manage, conserve and sustainably utilise forest resources to enhance the capacity of the forestry sector to contribute to development and social equity.
“This year, Government, through the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife, also developed a Carbon Credit framework that is meant to facilitate the country’s engagement in carbon trading on the voluntary and regulated market. In Zimbabwe, carbon credits can be generated across a wide array of carbon reduction projects which include renewable energy, reducing emissions from fossil fuel-based energies, natural climate solutions such as reforestation, avoiding deforestation and engaging in agro forestry, among other activities,” said President Mnangagwa.
He implored traditional leaders, councillors and political leaders to demonstrate environmental stewardship and ensure that their local areas are reforested and exhibit efforts at conservation of natural forests.
“Ecosystem functionality is pinned on the status of forests in our environment. Let us pass on to our children the culture of tree planting and forest conservation so that they embrace it as they grow and also pass it to future generations.
‘‘As we envisage to receive significant revenue from the Carbon Credit trading following this year’s establishment of a National Carbon Credit Trading Framework and its accompanying Statutory Instrument, I look forward to seeing critical institutions in this sector including the Forestry Commission being adequately supported to carry out and effectively deliver to their statutory mandates.
“Furthermore, I call upon all development partners, private companies and individuals to play their part in providing technical and financial support to the efforts by Forestry Commission. I commit to ensure that Treasury plays its part to ensure that the institution and its programmes are adequately supported,” he said.
President Mnangagwa commended the work being done by the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, of conducting nationwide pre-national Tree Planting Day awareness programmes where she is advocating for the need for tree planting and conserving forests,
“This endeavour is essential, not only to raise awareness, but to inculcate a sense of environmental stewardship in our people,” he said. President Mnangagwa said Government is committed to redoubling efforts to enhance the conservation of forests and other terrestrial ecosystems and accelerate their restoration.
“Zimbabwe has not been spared from the devastating effects and impacts of climate change on livelihoods, especially as it pertains to food security.
‘‘Tree planting is, therefore, a critical strategy to achieve both the enhancement of “life on land” as expounded through Sustainable Development Goal Number 15, while food security and nutrition remains one of the main thrusts of Government of Zimbabwe in addressing Sustainable Goal Number Two that commits to zero hunger, thus ensuring improved livelihoods for local communities.
“Government is, therefore, committed to redoubling efforts to enhance the conservation of forests and other terrestrial ecosystems and accelerate their restoration. The fight against climate change, delivering resilient and inclusive growth, as well as halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation requires concerted efforts by every citizen of this country, whether locally-based or living outside the country,” said President Mnangagwa.
Thelaunch of the 2023/24 tree planting seasonsaw Vice President Chiwenga planting a Fever Acacia Tree at Domborutinhira Secondary School which he christened after one of his names — Guveya.
He was joined in the tree planting by Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Advocate Misheck Mugadza, Chief Mutasa, Director of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr Edward Samuriwo who was representing Environment, Climate and Wildlife Minister, Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu and learners from the school as well as members of the community.