Il­le­gal log­ging to at­tract stiffer penal­ties

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pa­trick Chi­tumba Mid­lands Bureau Chief

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

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