Over 40 000 hectares of vegetation lost in Mash-Central Province annually

By ZBC Reporter
MASHONALAND central Province loses vegetation averaging 40 000 hectares annually due to tobacco curing.
The Forestry Commission this Friday launched a tree planting initiative dubbed “Tobacco Wood Energy Programme Tree Planting” (TWEP) in Chikukwa Village, Chiweshe as deforestation remains a problem in tobacco growing areas.
This government initiative which is being spearheaded by the Forestry Commission is meant to help address issues of deforestation. The programme is targeting tobacco farming communities to urge the tobacco farming communities to plant fast-growing trees which promote sustainable and environmentally friendly tobacco farming.
Speaking at the launch of the TWEP programme, Forestry Commission Acting General Manager Stephen Zivengwa called on farmers to complement government’s environmental protection strategies.
“As government departments including Environmental Management Agency (EMA) we want farmers to contribute in tree growing and we sit back knowing farmers can manage by themselves. It is not sustainable to cut indigenous trees which grow at slower rates hence we need to jealously guard them,” said Zivengwa.
Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs, Senator Monica Mavhunga said the TWEP Program is important in mitigation of effects of climate change.
“Tobacco growers are compelled to grow trees which they will harvest at maturity to supply their tobacco curing firewood requirements. Establishment of these woodlots will reduce pressure on the country’s indigenous woodlands and avail them for the provision of a plethora of ecosystem services, including climate change mitigation,” she said.
Mashonaland Central Province remains one of the biggest producers of flue-cured tobacco, though this comes at a cost of indigenous trees which are favoured by farmers in tobacco curing.