Illegal logging to attract stiffer penalties
THE Government has crafted a National Forest Policy that pushes for stiffer penalties which include imprisonment for individuals or companies involved in illegal logging.
With the country losing over 330 000 hectares of tree cover per annum, the Government is pushing for mandatory jail sentences for serious cases of deforestation, said Mr Abedinigo Marufu, the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe deputy general manager.
Mr Marufu said this while addressing a Southern Region workshop to consider the first Draft of the National Forest Policy.
He said agriculture accounted for 80 percent of the national rate of deforestation.
The Forestry Commission deputy general manager said 15 percent of it is attributable to tobacco curing and five percent due to firewood for household cooking.
“The first draft of the new National Forest Policy is out and we are here in Gweru presenting to organisations that were involved in the initial consultation process that saw the birth of the policy. The country is losing over 330 000 hectares of trees every year and the policy seeks to put a curb to this,” he said.
“The NFP seeks among other things to put stiffer penalties such as imprisonment to perpetrators of deforestation.”
Mr Marufu said forests shall be subject to protection against fires, illegal logging and against forest pests and diseases.
In his opening remarks, the director in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr Irvine Kunene said the government noticed that the country had been operating without a forestry policy for a long time.
“There is therefore need for Zimbabwe to develop a clear forest policy that recognises the multiple functions of and interests in forests to ensure that they contribute effectively to national development, local economies and environmental protection including climate change adaptation and mitigation,” he said.
“There is need to develop a forest policy that provides a basis for forestry legislation and regulations that are consistent and comprehensive enough for the long term sustainable use of forests and for the participation of people who depend on them for their livelihoods.” — @pchitumba1