THIS year’s celebrations to mark the International Day of Forests were held in Mahusekwa, Marondera West, amid calls to stop the rampant destruction of forests in the country.
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day of Forests in a bid to maintain fast disappearing forests.
The day celebrates and raises awareness on the importance of all types of forests and their role in our lives.
Forests are critical in providing clean air and act as a buffer against climate change at the same time providing food, shelter and employment for many people.
Zimbabwe is currently losing approximately 330 000 hectares of forests to deforestation annually.
The country has since planted 9,8 million trees against a national annual target of 10 million trees.
This year’s commemorations were held under the theme, ‘Protect and Conserve Forests for Improved Livelihoods’.
Speaking during the celebrations, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kasukuwere said the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-ASSET) blueprint was calling all stakeholders to play their part to ensure the prosperity of the country.
“We have come to Sango raNehoreka specifically because it is still here and protected and conserved by Mambo Nenguwo and his people,” he said.
“The importance of this forest is that it is a source of products such as fruits, firewood and mushrooms.
“This initiative is totally Zim-ASSET compliant.
“The projects fit well into each of the four clusters of the National Plan framework.
“The beekeeping, orchard and agroforestry projects fit well into the Food Security and Nutrition cluster.
“It is my conviction that you now need to consider the next step of developing appropriate infrastructure for local value addition of your produce in line with the spirit of Zim-ASSET to further enhance your livelihoods.
“We need to strike a balance between utilisation and management of our forestry, water and other environmental resources for sustainability.”
Sango raNehoreka provides environmental functions that include shelter and is a water catchment supplying surrounding wetlands, boreholes, wells and streams.
The tree-of-the-year for the year 2014 is Bolusanthus Speciosus, commonly known as Tree Wisteriain, Mukweshangoma or Mupaka in Shona, and Umbambangwe in Ndebele.
David Phiri, the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) sub-regional coordinator said FAO will continue to help protect the forests of Zimbabwe.
“FAO has been instrumental since 1971 to protect forests and trees worldwide,” said Phiri.
“Forest resources are there to contribute directly to the livelihoods and food security of people.
“FAO will therefore continue to help protect Zimbabwe’s forests and trees.
“We will soon be launching a US$5 million project.”
More than 100 indigenous trees were donated to the community by the Forestry Commission.