Sculptors destroying critical tree species in Manicaland-Forestry Commission

By Felix Matasva

MUTARE – The Forestry Commission has spoken against the destruction of critical indigenous tree species in Manicaland, saying wood sculptors were partly to blame for the problem.

Provincial Forestry Extension manager Phillip Tom said that pod mahogany and bechemia discolour species were under threat from sculptors.

Pod mahogany is called mukamba in Shona or Umkamba in Ndebele while bechemia discolour is called munyii in Shona. Munyii is a fruit tree.

“Pod mahogany and bichemia discolour are the two species used by artists to make wood sculptures therefore they are now under serious threat,” said Tom.

He said that there was a significant rise in people using firewood to make charcoal.

“The use of indigenous species to make charcoal is also a cause of concern and the law does not allow it as it contributes to deforestation. Whoever is doing that will be contravening the provisions of the Forest Act chapter 19 which regulates the utilisation of forests.

“If caught breaking the law, one is liable to a fine of $700 or a maximum of two years in prison. Everyone must play a crucial role in conserving our beautiful environment. Property owners and local authorities should put effective measures to conserve healthy ecosystems in their respective areas.

“Deforestation is not beneficial as trees are an integral part of our lives. Trees form the natural habitats for our wildlife.

“They help to prevent land degradation through soil erosion and mudslides as seen during Cyclone Idai. Trees also have an aesthetic value as they give beauty to our landscape. The Christmas pass look more beautiful than mountains in Dangamvura because of conservation of forests,” said Tom.

The environment which surrounds the high density suburbs of Mutare have been slowly recovering from the massive deforestation which happened at the peak of the country’s economic crisis between 2007 and 2008.