New Zimbabwe.com

Experts say timber industry has regressed 25 years due to the govt’s land grab exercise

CHIMANIMANI: The country’s once vibrant timber industry has regressed 25 years in less than a decade due to government’s chaotic land reform programme which made some plantations ungovernable, an official has said.
Timber Producers Federation CEO, Johnson Mhungu, said timber rotation cycle was disturbed by illegal settlements in the plantations as well as shortage of seed due to economic challenges.
“As a result, timber is being harvested without replanting. This situation is unsustainable considering that the future generation needs the same resources,” said Mhungu.
He said the industry has harvested more than it has replanted because some of the areas are inaccessible for a reforestation exercise.
“Seeds are not readily available as a result of economic challenges dogging the country and the entire timber industry,” said Mhungu.
He added: “About 18,000 hectares went up smoke in 2009 as a result of land reform.”
“People were allowed to roam freely in restricted areas,” said Mhungu.
He said according to the 2014 report on challenges facing the timber industry more workers have lost jobs in the sector since 2009.
He said there was need for government to address the issue of illegal occupation in areas such as Chimanimani as rotation management has been affected in that area.
“There was a clear decline in 2014 which is 24 percent below 2013 figures and four percent below 2012 figures and this is because companies are failing to meet proper plantation objective management,” said Mhungu.
The timber industry in Manicaland is in intensive care unit with some major companies either scaling down operations or closing due to viability challenges.
Giants such as Boarder Timbers, which is under judicial management, and Wattle Company, have not been spared either.
Wattle is operating at 50 percent capacity.Advertisement