Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
A multi-task team headed by the Forestry Commission has confiscated large quantities of firewood and charcoal in a nationwide blitz to curb deforestation and illicit trade in wood and charcoal.
In the latest update, the commission said more than 120 tonnes of firewood and an estimated 3 000 bags of charcoal had so far been seized since the blitz started at the beginning of August.
“The nationwide firewood/charcoal blitz hit Harare and other urban centres and growth points over the just-ended weekend leading to the seizure of firewood and charcoal,” the commission said.
“Harare, like most urban centres, has made firewood/charcoal trade a lucrative business much to the detriment of our forest resources. Major hotspots in Harare are at Mbudzi, Highfield, Chitungwiza – Chikwanha and Jambanja area at Unit M. Patrols in these areas are still in progress.”
The nationwide blitz is being spearheaded by the Forestry Commission with support from the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Environmental Management Agency, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), the police, local authorities and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement.
“In Muzarabani district alone, we have so far seized 1 043 bags of charcoal,” said Forestry Commission spokesperson Ms Violet Makoto. “In other parts of the country, large quantities of firewood and charcoal were confiscated.
“The amount of charcoal seized will increase as we widen our operation to cover the major hotspots in the country.”
Zimbabwe loses about 60 million trees — some 330 000 hectares of forests annually, according to the Forestry Commission.
Out of this figure, about 262 000 hectares are indigenous forests.
Illegal charcoal trade is decimating fragile forest cover raising huge environmental concerns over its sustainability. Experts say charcoal making is increasing the loss of indigenous forests as well as land degradation. In 2020, more than 30 people were arrested and fined for trading in charcoal with 1,9 tonnes of charcoal confiscated.