—Muchinga Province Permanent Secretary, Bwalya Ng’andu, has expressed great worry and concern over the indiscriminate cutting down of trees in Ituwe Reserve Forest in Chief Nkweto’s Chiefdom of Chinsali district.
In an interview with the Zambia News and Information Services ( ZANIS) in Chinsali over the weekend, Dr Ng’andu said the indiscriminate cutting down of trees in Chinsali district is worrisome.
Dr Ng’andu, who was taken on a conducted tour of the reserve forest by the Principal Forestry Officer, Everisto Nonde, said the levels of deforestation in Itutwe Reserve Forest and other forests in the province are alarming and cannot be allowed to continue.
He said that residents of Nkweto village should find other alternative ways of sustaining their livelihood other than engaging themselves in the illegal cutting down of trees for charcoal burning and other activities that have depleted the forest.
The Permanent Secretary said it is unfortunate that some people in the area are cutting down the trees with impunity.
He said at the level trees are being cut down in Chinsali and elsewhere in the province, the entire Itutwe Reserve Forest, which was once home to several tree species and animals, will be no more and this would greatly affect the weather pattern.
“Clearly what is going on in Itutwe Reserve Forest and many other forests in the province is charcoal burning at a huge scale, adding that the charcoal burning taking place in the forests is clearly commercial enterprise going by the number of bags being produced which is beyond domestic use,” said Dr Ngándu.
He appealed to the Forestry Department to step up its efforts in curbing illegal activities taking place in forests reserves and other plantations.
And Muchinga Forestry Officer, Everisto Nonde said his department is facing serious financial challenges coupled with low staffing levels to effectively curb the illegal activities taking place in most of the forest reserve in the province.
Mr Nonde, however, said his office will not relent in ensuring that illegal activities such as charcoal burning in Itutwe reserve forests are brought to an end.
He said his department is working with other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Imiti Ikula Empanga to educate the local people on the sustainable utilisation of the natural resources.