Take lessons from Idai experience, says conservationist group

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By Staff Reporter

Mutare: Green Governance Trust (GGT) says the intensity of Cyclone Idai could have been contained had local people preserved forests in surrounding areas.

Cyclone Idai recently battered the eastern parts of Manicaland province leaving a trail of destruction and massive death.

The GGT statement follows a concern which was raised by the Forestry Commission that perennial power cuts have crippled efforts being made in curbing deforestation in Manicaland province.

The country in recent months has been experiencing massive load shedding forcing people to resort to firewood, particularly indigenous trees as alternative source of energy.

Research Assistant Trevor James however said the alarming rate of deforestation requires immense reforestation mechanisms to be put in place.

He added that citizens need to instil in themselves the will to jealously guard and preserve forests to maintain the natural ecology of the environment.

“The alarming rate of deforestation is worrying especially when we are coming from the Cyclone Idai experience, and many of these natural disasters are likely to occur if we continue to disturb the natural ecology of our environment.

“The intensity of Cyclone Idai would have been contained had people not indiscriminately cut down trees which would have protected them.

“It is clear people need to be informed on their roles in the management of the environment and the detrimental effects of their actions in cutting down trees,” said James.

“As Green Governance Trust, we envision a Zimbabwe where citizens are active participants in sustainable environmental management especially when it comes to issues of deforestation and the need for forest conservation.

“However, we are still behind as a country in terms of reforestation mechanisms. Most of the efforts made have overlooked research on geographical areas under which forests need to be reborn and planting trees suitable in the areas and those that do not end up disturbing the areas too for it will be wasted effort,” said James.

Manicaland Forestry extension manager, Phillip Tom said the rate of deforestation has escalated beyond their curbing capacity despite working with the local authority and police.

“We are in a difficult situation as natural resource conservers because of the alarming rate at which people are cutting down trees due to the recent power cuts in urban areas.

“We are currently working together with local council and police to carry out patrols and bring offenders to book but our progress has been slowed due to limited manpower and resources,” said Tom.