ZANIS COPY-K12 million to be spent on tree saving project

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Government has announced plans to embark on a K12 million tree saving exercise which is aimed at guaranteeing the growth of the tree seedlings that are being planted under the ongoing tree planting exercise country wide.

And government will introduce forestry inspectors in all border posts in the country to curb timber smuggling which has proven to be a source of loss of government revenue in the wood production industry.

Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Wilbur Simuusa told ZANIS that the tree saving exercise, which will be implemented next month, will be carried out countrywide in the second phase of the ongoing tree planting project.

Mr. Simuusa noted that in the past, government had been losing revenue through tree planting investments which lacked nurturing of the trees that were planted.

He said the tree saving project will be centred on plant life saving practices such as watering and fire preventive mechanisms in bush fire prone areas to be done throughout the year.

The Minister said the tree nurturing will incorporate community participation in areas where trees are being planted and will be spearheaded by forestry officers at both district and provincial level.

Government has spent over K12 million in the ongoing tree planting exercise which will be completed before the end of February.

And Mr. Simuusa said government will introduce forestry inspectors at all border posts in the country to curb smuggling of both processed and unprocessed timber.

He said currently, the country was losing revenue through smuggling of unprocessed timber hence the need to introduce the forestry department offices in all border points.

He said there was need to start adding value to all wood products locally.

Mr. Simuusa explained that the project will begin with the newly built Katima Mulilo border post which is expected to be opened next month.

He said this is because the area was rich in first grade exotic hard wood species which is prone to smuggling.

Mr. Simuusa further stated that the expansion programme will later be extended to Nakonde, Kazungula and Kasumbalesa border posts before the end of the year.

He also said government was still holding talks with timber stakeholders on calls to lift the ban on timber exportation which was effected late last year.

He said the ban was implemented to add value to the timber production sector and restrict the way wood was previously handled in the country.