First Lady takes reafforestation drive to Lowveld

The country’s Patron for the Environment and Wildlife First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, yesterday braved the scorching heat in Bubi (Maranda) under Mwenezi district to lead in the planting of over 700 fruit and indigenous trees as part of steps to reclaim forests and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The tree planting awareness campaign comes as a precursor to the National Tree Planting Day, an annual event to be presided over by President Mnangagwa on the first Saturday of December.

Among trees planted was the tree of the year called Muunga/Acacia.

Amai Mnangagwa also launched the clay coating broadcasting seed balls innovate concept.

In this method, people sow the seeds by randomly scattering them on the land, while walking around whereupon when it rains the clay coating is dissolved, allowing the seed to germinate.

To show her seriousness with the programme, the First Lady led the community in planting the trees at three different points, namely the school orchard at Bubi Secondary, the verge of the forest and in the middle of the forest as part of measures to reclaim forests.

Addressing the gathering, the First Lady reiterated the need to shift focus from tree planting to tree growing in order to achieve sustainable conservation.

She encouraged people to take action at an individual level and utilize the seed ball broadcasting concept which is eco-friendly and easy to undertake.

As the wildlife ambassador, Dr Mnangagwa underscored the need for more CAMPFIRE programmes that ensure sufficient revenue accrues to the community.

She further paid glowing tribute to the people of Masvingo for voting resoundingly for President Mnangagwa in the recent elections.

“Allow me to thank Masvingo Province for retaining President Mnangagwa so that he continues with the work he started. Ndinokutendai Masvingo and this also allows me to continue with my programmes and to introduce new ones. I am gratified to be among you as we teach one another about climate change which we are experiencing.

“We must protect our forests. Hot conditions and the change of seasons is the climate change we are talking about. Felling trees and burning forests aides climate change and leads to poor rainfall patterns. If floods come, we will be washed away because the area will be bare, our livestock will be washed away as well.

“Trees can take 100 years to grow but we are chopping them down. Let us desist from cutting down trees because they take long to grow. Trees have many benefits, yet we are cutting them down,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa enquired on the importance of trees, eliciting a lot of responses from the gathering.

“This is where the oxygen we breathe comes from,” said one contributor.

A second respondent said trees provided traditional herbs, shade and pastures.

The First Lady weighed in with many other benefits.

“We also get fruits, soil protection and restoration, disaster risk reduction. Afforestation majorly aims to provide more habitats for animals and wildlife. This season we are likely to get low rainfall so after tree planting let us practise tree growing so that we protect the trees we have planted.

“Let us not procrastinate and when it rains, make sure you plant trees on your homestead especially fruit trees.

“Climate change is not affecting Zimbabwe alone but the whole world. The Forestry Commission learnt technology from other countries and brought about the method of broadcasting seed balls. This initiative compliments President Mnangagwa’s vision for the realisation of Vision 2030,” she said.

The tree selected for this year, Dr Mnangagwa said, was the Acacia/Muunga.

“On my way here I witnessed that trees were cut. As patron of the environment, I say whatever happened is now behind us, let us move forward and look after our trees. Burning forests is chasing away our animals,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa sought to know the benefits of wild animals.

School children said the country gets foreign currency through the sale of by-products while others said people get meat.

“Money brought in by professional hunters vanouya zviripamutemo (those who are licensed to hunt) helps develop our communitues, including building clinics,” she said.

The mother of the nation also tackled social issues when she sought to know how people were living harmoniously.

“How are you living in the homes? Is there love in the homes? Where is gender-based violence emanating from?” she asked.

Mrs Mavis Sibanda responded: “Love requires women to submit to their husbands, cook and do their laundry.”

A man said love was invisible but the way one lived with others in the community painted a picture of him that was good or bad.

“The Bible says, love your neighbour the way you love yourself,” he said.

Mrs Evelyn Chamboko, spoke on the need for the married couples to accord each other conjugal rights.

“Granting one another conjugal rights chases trouble from the home. Husbands and wives must love one another and avoid domestic violence which mainly affects children,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa took time to sow the seeds of love and peace.

She gave the gathering, including traditional chiefs the disabled and the elderly, food hampers.

School children also received stationery, food hampers and reusable sanitary pads while pregnant women received baby preparation kits courtesy of Amai Mnangangwa.

Representing the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife Professor Munyaradzi Shoko from the Forestry Commission praised the First Lady for her unwavering stance in promoting environmental issues.

“Since 2021, you never backtracked on the issue of planting trees.

“Today this is the fifth province in which you have led in tree planting. You tasked us Amai to be innovative on tree planting and we came up with seed ball broadcasting which you launched today. Through your guidance, we are on track towards achieving our target of 25 million trees,” he said.

He listed culprits in cutting down trees.

“Our main culprits after our analysis is Mashonaland West. Even though Mashonaland Central cuts down trees also, they are planting them back. Masvingo particularly Chiredzi is now bare.

Those who are protecting trees are Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands Provinces. Amai we are happy with your work to curb climate change through tree-planting,” he said.

An expert from the Forestry Commission Mr Lewis Radzire, explained how the new broadcasting method works.

“The advantage of seed ball broadcasting is to enhance restoration and regeneration of degraded forests. You would find that unlike broadcasting open seed, these seeds are coated with clay so that when the rains come, they open the seed and allow it to germinate. Our forests are heavily degraded so we are starting with broadcasting by hands.

“We are taking a leaf from what has been done also in countries like Kenya. Two weeks back the country committed to regenerating the whole country so this concept is very user friendly and adaptable to most of our forests. As Forestry Commission we are advocating for this seed ball,” he said

Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Ezra Chadzamira, thanked the First Lady for her benevolence and for visiting the province.

“Today you have come to this hot area. This shows your love for the environment and the people. Distance is not a barrier to you Amai. We are thankful you brought us 60 tonnes of maize meal, food hampers and baby preparation kits,” he said.

Bubi villagers expressed gratitude to the First Lady for her awareness campaign and promised to look after their trees.

Bulawayo based arts group IYASA provided edutainment against cutting down of trees and veld fires.

Herald

Positive Eye News

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