Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

“A nation that destroys it’s soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

This is the sight that met me on my way home on 6 October, a sight which has met me for nearly forty years.



And this  is the sight that met me on 9 November as I drove home.


The land on which this devastation has taken place is State Lodge, the President’s country residence.


Up until the early 80’s the entire property, State Lodge, was heavily forested.  When the deforestation started a concerned neighbour wrote to President Kaunda expressing concern.  Nothing happened and the following year the deforestation continued. Another letter was written and again nothing happened. By year three there were no more trees to write about. Although at this stage, the trees on the sides of the hills and immediately adjacent to the State Lodge fence were untouched.  This latest ring barking and the area that has been cleared around it is on the side of the hill.


Ironically, this tree was ring barked in the same week that it was announced in Parliament that twenty five million trees will be planted during the current tree planting season to help address our depleted forests. It was also the week in which all timber licences were suspended. Not only is it ironic, but it is also down right embarrassing that this destruction of trees is going on ‘right under the President’s nose’ so to speak.


We applaud Government for their action; it was urgently needed.  But it should not stop with tree planting.  Forestry officials need to go out into the field and educate people that it is not necessary to remove a tree to plant maize; that maize can be intercropped with trees.


Amongst the tree species to be planted are pine and eucalyptus for timber and poles, faldherbia albida for animal fodder, nitrogen fixing and firewood and moringa oleifera for medicine and oil, and fruit trees. Eleven nurseries are to be established around the country which will produce 17,500,000 seedlings. These nurseries will involve local chiefs, schools and churches in the production of the seedlings.  Hopefully this will give these people a sense of ownership and as a result they will care for the trees into their old age.


We wish Government every success in their endeavours. But we cannot pass this opportunity to remind them that it will only succeed if they have the right management in place, people who have the right work ethic, who are there to do the job properly and who are on the same agenda as Government rather than on their own agenda. We say this as we have received numerour reports of Forestry Department officials who are encouraging people in rural areas to grow pine and eucalyptus trees as the very same officials have private contracts to supply poles.


I, in the meantime, am going back to check how the digging of the holes are going for the 150 trees I intend to plant this year as soon as the rain starts.


“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Warren Buffett

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