Zimbabwe — THE country continues to lose large tracts of forestry through veld fires and other environment unfriendly activities leaving only 45 percent forestry cover, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) statistics have revealed.
The country, however, recorded a 38 percentage reduction in hectares of land destroyed by fire last year compared to the year 2010. Eight people died in veld fire incidences in 2011 compared to 25 in 2010. The statistics were revealed at a belated Africa Environment Day Commemorations in Zvishavane last week.
In his speech, Midlands deputy provincial education director, Mr Reuben Mabhena, who was the guest of honour, said there was a need for every Zimbabwean to take the responsibility to avoid further deforestation of the country. Zimbabwe loses at least 330 000 hectares of forest every year due to veld fires, load-shedding, clearing of land for agricultural purposes, tobacco curing and mining activities.
The rate of deforestation is alarming and only about 45 percent of forest cover is left in Zimbabwe, he said. Mr Mabhena was addressing a crowd composed mainly of children from various schools in Zvishavane district. He said there was a need for school teachers to take environmental conservation lectures seriously in schools.
There is a saying, catch them young. There is therefore a need for teachers to take environment conservation in schools seriously. If we do not do anything in terms of tree planting and conservation, there might not be any forest to talk of in the next 50 years, he said.
Mr Mabhena said 30 lives were lost between 2010 and 2011 in veld fires, a cause for concern. It is saddening to note that 25 lives were lost in the 2010 fire season while five people died in veld fire outbreaks in the 2011 fire season. This only calls for
Zimbabweans to take responsibility and avoid starting fires. However, I would like to commend the agency in its strategies for awareness campaigns, fire demonstrations, training of environmental monitors, fire-fighting teams, which resulted in a 38 percent reduction in fire incidences between the 2010 fire season and the 2011 season, he said.
Mr Mabhena said 713 770 hectares were destroyed by veld fires in the 2011 fire season while 1 152 413 hectares were lost in 2010. This shows that there was a reduction of large tracts of land that were burnt in the 2010 fire season than in the 2011 fire season. We, however, need to take further steps and record no fire incidents in the coming years, if we are to keep our environment green, he said.
This years Africa Environment Day commemorations were held under the theme, Greening the economy, play your part.