New for­est pol­icy drafted

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Whins­ley Masara in Harare

THE Gov­ern­ment last week met en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists in Harare to draw up an all-in­clu­sive and com­pre­hen­sive Na­tional For­est Pol­icy.

The first draft from the meet­ing is ex­pected in Au­gust while the new pol­icy is ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional by year end.

Di­rec­tor for En­vi­ron­ment in the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Wa­ter and Cli­mate, Mr Irvine Kunene, said the coun­try was fail­ing to deal with de­for­esta­tion and land degra­da­tion be­cause it was op­er­at­ing with­out a for­est pol­icy.

He said lack of a guid­ing frame­work had re­sulted in the rate of de­for­esta­tion in­creas­ing three-fold in re­cent years.

“This in­crease in de­for­esta­tion has been at­trib­uted to the con­ver­sion of for­est land to agri­cul­tural land which ac­counts for 80 per­cent of the de­for­esta­tion rate.

“There are also a num­ber of di­rect causes of for­est degra­da­tion and these in­clude poverty, pop­u­la­tion growth, mar­kets and trade in for­est prod­ucts and macro- eco­nomic poli­cies,” said Mr Kunene.

“There is there­fore a need for gov­ern­ment to come up with a Na­tional For­est pol­icy so as to man­age and con­serve our forests,” he said.

Mr Kunene said the pol­icy would pro­vide a ba­sis for forestry leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions that are con­sis­tent and com­pre­hen­sive enough for the long term sus­tain­able use of forests.

He said leg­is­la­tion would pro­vide for the par­tic­i­pa­tion of peo­ple who de­pend on forests for their liveli­hoods in con­ser­va­tion ef­forts.

“For­est re­sources con­trib­ute about three to four per­cent to the coun­try’s Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct and gen­er­ally to the im­prove­ment of food se­cu­rity,” said Kunene.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO), Mr David Mfute, said the na­tional for­est pol­icy would pro­vide guide­lines on how Zim­babwe can best man­age its for­est re­sources for the ben­e­fit of present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“It is im­por­tant that mea­sures are taken to en­sure that for­est re­sources are avail­able to­day and in the fu­ture as forests and trees have mul­ti­ple func­tions as well as bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion and car­bon se­ques­tra­tion that help in adapt­ing and mit­i­gat­ing cli­mate change.

“The de­vel­op­ment of the Na­tional For­est Pol­icy will con­trib­ute di­rectly to the at­tain­ment of the goals of the Zim­babwe Agenda for Sus­tain­able So­cio-Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion (Zim-As­set),” said Mr Mfute.

He said this pol­icy would also be in line with some key pri­or­i­ties of the FAO Zim­babwe Coun­try Pro­gramme Frame­work 20162020 which were en­dorsed by gov­ern­ment.

Forestry Com­mis­sion Board Chair­per­son, Mrs Rose Mukogo, said: “We have so far cov­ered most of the jour­ney to craft our Na­tional For­est Pol­icy which was first mooted in 2014,” she said.

Also present at the work­shop were rep­re­sen­ta­tives of stake­hold­ers drawn from the coun­try’s 10 prov­inces.

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