On the 20th of January 2017, the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, launched the 2016/17 National Tree Planting in Lusaka, after which each District followed suit.
The Zambian government had made a call on each district to plant at least 20 hectares of trees in a bid to enhance forest restoration in the country. As a contribution to this cause, the SASSCAL Zambia National Node, in support of SASSCAL Task 182, participated in the 2016/17 National Tree Planting launch in the Kazungula District with the theme “Natural Tree Regeneration for Forest Restoration”. This event was officiated by the Southern Province Minister, Hon. Dr. Edify Hamukale, MP, on Monday 23 January 2017.
The SASSCAL Task 182 deals with the management of the Zambezi Teak (Baikaea Plurijuga) forests and other associated woodlands in Western Zambia in a changing climatic regime. The launch of the planting season was conducted at the Katombora Local Forest Reserve, one of the permanent monitoring plots of Task 182. The occasion was attended by the Permanent Secretary for the Southern Province, Sibanze Simuchoba, District Commissioners of both Livingstone and Kazungula Districts, heads of government departments in the district, the media and local communities, including teachers and pupils.
During a courtesy call on the Kazungula District Commissioner, Ms. Pascalina Musokotwane, and during his speech, the Provincial Minister stated that Government was committed to the protection and restoration of forests. The Minister acknowledged the importance of forest resources as a major resource for sustaining livelihoods. He said the high rate of loss of trees and their diversity in the country is due to a combination of factors that require effective strategies to be addressed. He encouraged district forestry staff to work closely with all the departments, including the Road Development Agency, in order to extend tree planting activities outside the protected forests to other areas including along road infrastructure.
The Minister further called for more participation in activities meant to protect forests. He encouraged everyone present to continue planting trees in order to contribute to Government’s directive to at least plant 20 hectares per district. The Provincial Minister also reminded everyone that tree-planting itself is one thing, but it is also important to identify all areas that meet the growing conditions of the threatened species in order for the regeneration areas to be extended to those areas; and avoid unnecessary costs of planting trees in areas where success may not be achieved. He also spoke about the need to identify areas suitable for exotic trees for timber, to support the growth of industry in the Southern Province. In this case, he empathised the need to work closely with the National Remote Sensing Centre, who was part of the SASSCAL delegation, and other partners, in contributing to strategic planning, if such a cause is to be achieved. SASSCAL was also reminded to share more on what was being done, in order to inform decision-making for the Zambian people. This was after the National Director for SASSCAL Zambia, Ms. Indie Dinala gave a brief on what SASSCAL was doing for the region, as a way of updating the leadership of Southern Province.
The principal investigator of Task 182, Mr. Lishomwa Mulongwe explained that the tree planting in the monitoring sites is done annually by the communities and the pupils from the surrounding schools. Seed is collected from other districts because the Baikiaea plurijuga trees in the district do not produce the adequate amount of seed required. He indicated that one of the major challenges that face the forestry regeneration activities is predation by mice, monkeys and duikers which largely affect the regeneration success rates.
Headman Kapitango, the local leader of the community within the proximity of the local forest, that is also involved in the regeneration activities, thanked everyone for joining them in the launch. He further made an appeal to have the activities scaled up for their involvement to increase in terms of number of days that they work in the forest.