Forests must mitigate effects of climate change

By Nhau Mangirazi

KAROI- There is need for the tobacco industry working in Hurungwe and others parts of the country to mitigate effects of climate change through safeguarding forests.

Hurungwe rural district councilor Agnes Nxele suggested that the tobacco firms must use solar powered system to cure golden leaf instead of firewood that have destroyed forests around the productive farming district of Hurungwe.

Several tobacco companies are flooding Hurungwe district and are causing a lot of degradation and semi deserts.

Councillor Nxele gave her input on Monday during the outreach program by environment the 18 member environment, tourism and hospitality parliament portfolio committee here.

She said, ‘Hurungwe is a productive farming district but tobacco farming but we are facing negative effects on climate change as forests have been destroyed. We are suffering from recurrent droughts due to that. As policymakers we must be proactive on climate change and we must go green through use of solar powered system to cure tobacco so that we preserve our forests. Use of charcoal is better to protect the forests,’ she said.

Chief Adam Katsvere Chanetsa called for stiff and mandatory sentences for those who cause veld fires.

‘We have mandatory sentence for livestock theft and veld fires must have a mandatory sentence so that we curb it once and for all,’ said Chief Chanetsa

Recently, Mashonaland West resident minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka (Hurungwe West MP) challenged tobacco farmers to take tree planting trees seriously to ‘mitigate impact of climate change’

She said cutting down of trees is negatively affecting the rainfall pattern and food security in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa region.

Mliswa-Chikoka challenged Hurungwe communities to shun tree cutting.

She said, ‘Hurungwe used to top the radar on veld fires but due to awareness programs through Environment Management Agency, (EMA) things have improved. Ironically, tree cutting is rampant because majority of tobacco farmers use indigenous trees for curing their golden leaf. We must balance the act as much as we need tobacco production, but we must do something to regain the forests that have been left bare? We must desist from cutting down trees without replanting anything at all. Failure to do so has a negative impact on our future as these trees make our environment worth the cause we are all living. Planting trees help us for sustainable development with a clean environment.

Forestry Commission provincial manager Lewis Radzire confirmed that they are rebranding nature by promoting both exotic and indigenous fruit tree planting at household, community and nation at large.

Committee chairperson Hon Concilia Masuku-Chinanzvavana said the Forest Bill seeks to amend the Forest Act [Chapter 19:05].

‘The act was created in 1947 and it is outdated as the minister seeks to align it with current reality. As parliament portfolio committee, we are here to get your inputs as law making process to enhance the protection of forests from veld fires through the introduction of mandatory and deterrent sentences as well as recognize aggravating consequences of veld fires, such as death and damage to property and make provision for their prosecution in terms of the Criminal Law (Codification,’ she said.

She also highlighted that the bill seek to introduce a multi-sectorial and decentralized approach to fire management that includes local authorities, AREX officials, the transport sector, gender structure and traditional leaders, among others.