Zambia launches the national tree planting exercise for the 2016/17 season

I AM GREATLY HONOURED TO BE PART OF THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL TREE PLANTING EXERCISE FOR THE 2016/17 SEASON UNDER THE THEME: “ADVANCING THE ROLE OF NATURAL REGENERATION IN FOREST RESTORATION.” THIS THEME EMPHASISES THE NEED FOR RESTORATION OF FOREST COVER.

HOW DO WE DO THIS? IT IS THROUGH ENCOURAGING ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS WHO INCLUDE THE GOVERNMENT, FAITH-BASED ORGANISATIONS, CIVIL SOCIETY, PRIVATE SECTOR, AND COOPERATING PARTNERS TO PLANT TREES. WE ALL MUST PLANT TREES FOR NATURAL TREE REGENERATION TO FLOURISH.

ZAMBIA IS COVERED BY 44.17 MILLION HECTARES OF FORESTS, REPRESENTING 60 PERCENT OF THE COUNTRY’S LAND MASS. NORTHWESTERN, SOUTHERN AND WESTERN PROVINCES HAVE NATURAL FORESTS THAT HAVE VALUABLE TIMBER SPECIES SUCH AS THE ZAMBEZI TEAK, ROSEWOOD AND MUKWA.

IN CENTRAL, EASTERN, LUAPULA, MUCHINGA, NORTHERN AND LUSAKA PROVINCES, WE HAVE THE MUKULA, MUPAPA AMONG SEVERAL OTHER TIMBER SPECIES.

THESE VALUABLE SPECIES WHICH ARE USED FOR VARIOUS WOOD PRODUCTS ARE ON HIGH DEMAND ON BOTH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL MARKETS. AT DOMESTIC LEVEL, THE SPECIES ARE USED IN JOINERY AND CARPENTRY WORKSHOPS AND FACTORIES TO SUPPORT THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY. OTHER TREE SPECIES ARE EQUALLY BEING HARVESTED FOR FUEL WOOD AND CHARCOAL CREATING AN INCOME FOR OUR PEOPLE.

I AM AWARE THAT THE MAJORITY OF HOUSEHOLDS, PARTICULARLY IN PERI-URBAN AREAS, PREDOMINANTLY USE CHARCOAL AS A SOURCE OF ENERGY FOR HEATING AND COOKING.

FROM THE FORESTS, WE ALSO DERIVE NON-WOOD FOREST PRODUCTS SUCH AS HONEY, CATERPILLARS AND MUSHROOM. THESE MAY BE SEASONAL, BUT ARE A GOOD SOURCE OF INCOME AND NUTRITION TO OUR RURAL COMMUNITIES.

APART FROM THE OBVIOUS TANGIBLE BENEFITS, FORESTS GUARANTEE ZAMBIA’S ESSENTIAL WATER SUPPLY. THE FUNDAMENTAL ROLE FORESTS PLAY IN REGULATING RAINFALL AND STREAM FLOW IS VITAL FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND POWER GENERATION. FORESTS ALSO PLAY IMPORTANT ROLES IN CLIMATE CHANGE WHICH INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

1. INCREASED TREE COVER HELPS TO LOWER THE AIR TEMPERATURE AND REDUCE THE HEAT INTENSITY OF THE GREENHOUSE GAS EFFECT BY MAINTAINING LOW LEVELS OF CARBON DIOXIDE;
2. FORESTS PRODUCE WOOD FUELS AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO FOSSIL FUELS; AND
3. FORESTS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO ABSORB ABOUT ONE-TENTH OF GLOBAL CARBON EMISSIONS PROJECTED FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THIS CENTURY INTO THEIR BIOMASS, SOILS AND PRODUCTS AND STORE THEM IN PERPETUITY.

LET ME NOW ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF DEFORESTATION WHICH HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL ON OUR COUNTRY. THIS IS OF GREAT CONCERN TO MY GOVERNMENT. I AM AWARE THAT BETWEEN 2000 AND 2014, ZAMBIA LOST AN AVERAGE, 276,021 HECTARES OF FORESTS PER YEAR.

DIRECT DRIVERS OF DEFORESTATION INCLUDE AGRICULTURAL EXPANSION, UNCONTROLLED WOOD FUEL AND TIMBER EXTRACTION, BUSH FIRES, MINING AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT.

I AM ALSO AWARE THAT THERE IS A LOT OF ILLEGAL HARVESTING OF TIMBER ACROSS THE COUNTRY RESULTING IN REDUCED FOREST COVER. THE DESTRUCTION OF FORESTS, COUPLED WITH EXCESSIVE SETTLEMENT AND OTHER HUMAN ACTIVITIES, LEAD TO UNCONTROLLED SEVERE SOIL EROSION, HIGH SEDIMENT LOAD AND SUBSEQUENT SILTATION OF HYDROELECTRIC DAMS AND DECREASED RIVER FLOW.

IF WE HARNESS THIS RESOURCE PROPERLY, IT IS CAPABLE OF CREATING WEALTH AND JOBS FOR OUR CITIZENS PARTICULARLY THE YOUTH. WE WILL THEREFORE, AS A RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT, PURSUE THIS PATH OF DEVELOPMENT THROUGH BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL AVENUES.

MY GOVERNMENT IS THEREFORE COMMITTED TO ENSURING THAT OUR FORESTS ARE WELL CONSERVED FOR THEM TO BECOME A VIABLE RESOURCE FOR OUR COUNTRY’S SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT MY GOVERNMENT ADOPTED THE NATIONAL FORESTRY POLICY IN OCTOBER, 2014 AND THE FORESTS ACT NO. 4 OF 2015 WAS ALSO ENACTED TO ENSURE EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS POLICY. THE NEW POLICY AND LEGISLATION PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIVATE AND COMMUNITY FORESTS.

OUR POSITION AS GOVERNMENT IS TO PROMOTE VALUE ADDITION AND THIS HAS BEEN MY ARDENT DESIRE SO THAT WE AVOID EXPORT OF UNPROCESSED AND SEMI-PROCESSED TIMBER. THIS WILL SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTE TO WEALTH AND JOB CREATION AND CONSEQUENTLY IMPROVING THE LIVING STANDARDS OF OUR PEOPLE.

IN THIS REGARD, FOR US TO PROMOTE FOREST CONSERVATION AND REDUCE THE PRESSURE ON FORESTS AS A SOURCE OF WOOD ENERGY, WE MUST ENCOURAGE THE USE OF ALTERNATIVE DOMESTIC ENERGY SOURCES AND SUSTAINABLE CHARCOAL PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES.

I WISH TO DIRECT THE MINISTRY OF LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCES TO ENSURE THAT ALL TIMBER EXTRACTION AND OTHER FORESTRY-RELATED ACTIVITIES ARE CONDUCTED WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF THE FORESTS ACT OF 2015. PERPETRATORS OF ILLEGAL FORESTRY-RELATED ACTIVITIES MUST BE BROUGHT TO BOOK.

IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE VARIOUS INTERVENTIONS THAT GOVERNMENT IS PUTTING IN PLACE TO MITIGATE DEFORESTATION ARE CROSSCUTTING AMONG MINISTRIES, DEPARTMENTS AND OTHER STATE AGENCIES. WE, THEREFORE, NEED TO STRENGTHEN COORDINATION AND ENHANCE SYNERGIES BETWEEN ALL RELEVANT GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND AGENCIES TO CURB THE RAMPANT ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES.

AT THIS POINT, I CAN NOT IGNORE THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN FOREST MANAGEMENT. OUR TRADITIONAL LEADERS SHOULD ASSIST GOVERNMENT IN MOBILISING COMMUNITIES TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN FORESTRY ACTIVITIES.

THE PRIVATE SECTOR SHOULD ALSO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ENABLING POLICY AND LEGISLATION IN THE FORESTRY SECTOR TO INVEST IN BOTH NATURAL FOREST MANAGEMENT AND PLANTATION ESTABLISHMENT.

MY GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE TO PROMOTE MINING AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT. HOWEVER, EVEN AS WE DEVELOP THESE SECTORS, WE SHALL TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE IMPACT THAT SUCH DEVELOPMENTS HAVE ON THE FORESTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN GENERAL.

MY GOVERNMENT WILL ENSURE THAT COMPREHENSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK STRATEGIES ARE, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, INCORPORATED IN MINING AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS TO BALANCE DEVELOPMENT AND CONSERVATION.

LET ME UNDERSCORE THE NEED FOR TO TAKE KEEN INTEREST IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION BY PLANTING TREES AT LEAST ONE TREE EVERY YEAR.

LET US GET INVOLVED: THE YOUTH, WOMEN, MEN, THAT CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THAT MINISTER, THAT MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT IN PLANTING A TREE TODAY!

THIS WAY WE WILL BE MAKING TREMENDOUS CONTRIBUTION TO THE COUNTRY AND THE WORLD IN DEMONSTRATING OUR GLOBAL CONCERN AND COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FORESTS. WE WILL ALSO BE CONTRIBUTING TO THE REDUCTION OF GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS.

ZAMBIA IS PARTY TO THE PARIS AGREEMENT THAT I SIGNED ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA ON 20TH SEPTEMBER, 2016. THIS AGREEMENT IS THE FIRST-EVER UNIVERSAL, LEGALLY BINDING GLOBAL CLIMATE DEAL.

THE AGREEMENT OUTLINES GLOBAL ACTION PLANS TO PUT THE WORLD ON TRACK BY AVOIDING DANGEROUS CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH LIMITING GLOBAL WARMING TO 2 DEGREES CELSIUS. MY GOVERNMENT WILL ENDEAVOUR TO DOMESTICATE THE AGREEMENT SO THAT ZAMBIA MEETS ITS OBLIGATIONS.

IN OUR EFFORTS TO PROMOTE AFFORESTATION, WE SHOULD ALL NOW ADOPT AND EMBRACE THIS SLOGAN: “CUT ONE TREE AND PLANT THREE.”

IT IS NOW MY SINGULAR HONOUR TO OFFICIALLY LAUNCH THE NATIONAL TREE PLANTING FOR THE SEASON 2016/17.
I THANK YOU
GOD BLESS ZAMBIA

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