FARMING TREES – FOR TIMBER PURPOSES

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:10:45 +0000

By Makeli Phiri

GOD planted or established the vegetation for a purpose. There are all sorts of plants, very small ones called shrubs and other types of trees for making or manufacturing furniture. Trees and shrubs when they die they go back to the soil where they came from, just like humans and any other living thing when times comes they return to the soil where they came from.

Before independence plantations where established, on the Copperbelt like Chichele plantations where the various species of trees were planted for various uses. Some were for the mining industries and some for construction and other uses for making or manufacturing furniture.

In other areas like the Southern Province.

The establishment of plantations in other areas like Southern Province the establishment of Siamambo plantation was for the tobacco industry and heavily supported these farmers growing this cash crop with supply of wood for curing  tobacco as this province had a good number of farmers growing tobacco.

Part of these trees went for furniture and the construction industry within the province.

Hardwood the teek family was coming from Mulobezi for the mining industry and other activities that needed hardwood.

In other areas as time went by the use of trees in major industries somehow stopped ticking as very little activities were taking place because most industries were or had closed due to problems with  working materials. And all of a sudden investors have established cheap and accessible wood material for export to outside the country.

Some discovered the use of  “mukula” tree and harvesting of this species is on high demand especially outside this country. Illegal cutting and exporting has been the main activity without notification of the department entrusted with this resource and other law agencies. The country was and is losing millions of kwacha. Until recently a halt was made to regulate the cutting of such an important hardwood.

Hardwood take many years to mature because they are slow in growing and yet this natural resource is let go to benefit countries outside Zambia.

Why should our timber industry import timber from the neighboring countries when we are able to grow the same. ZESCO needs a lot of poles with their grid extension to all parts of the country and yet we fail to supply this unit with required poles. The answer of course lies with ZAFFICO, as they have all the expertise in replanting and establishing new plantations anywhere in the country as long as the government identifies a piece of land.

It is therefore gratifying to hear of the planting of thousands of seedlings on the Copperbelt in order to feed ZESCO with the required poles in future. The 15000 poles that can be treated and supplied means  continuous planting and reopening of new areas to put up the required tree species that the timber industry requires. Value must be added to this tree although it takes a long time to be harvested, the nation must be patient when such is getting established.

The forestry department under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources should extend their effort to the rural farmers. Rural areas equally consume a lot of wood and do not make efforts to replace them as seen in other areas where it is almost a desert devoid of land vegetation.

For the government to establish plantations where trees can be harvested for industrial use and possible export is easy. But when it comes to the rural farmers the need for establishing a plantation for trees may not be seen immediately. Therefore, when an area has been identified for the purpose of putting up a plantation for the nation, it would be in the interest of those to execute such an exercise to respect people’s beliefs and traditions as these can be exploited in convincing people to conserve trees and forests that would make up as part of the natural resource. These would later benefit the local people.

In the rural areas if they are to preserve woodlands then they shall continue getting the benefits of timber, fuel wood, medicines and fruits just as their ancestors did. They would also get other benefits indirectly such as conserving of water by the natural forests and the streams would continuously have water meaning they would not dry up.

Trees along the river banks would have an added advantage of ensuring that the land is protected from erosion. Protected trees and indeed forests help in improving micrometer of an area by regulating climatic factors such as wind speed and temperature.

The establishment of plantation apart from being the source of industrial material would equally contribute to the good climatic conditions and attracting rains because so many trees would have a wide surface area moisture evaporation which in turn falls as rain which again is need by every plant and animals alike.

Such ideas and knowledge should be disseminated to our rural communities by the department entrusted with the  responsibility to look after our natural resource.

It is important to have a start or revamp what was almost dying. It is the nation that will enjoy the fruits that would be the result of this effort. Boosting tree planting as well as “farming trees” means material to feed the future timber industries now springing up everywhere. What has been lost is not easy to replace that is why we are struggling to put things in order. The plantations that people thought were useless were invaded thinking the government has forgotten, but now the government has realized the importance of what was started many decades ago. Destroying the forests and established plantations for that matter is creating problems for ourselves. Trees and plantations play a very important role in our everyday living and the nation can take advantage of what the plantation and trees at large can offer the nation. But the nation should not be greedy by taking too much out of this natural resource.

Should we waste this resource the results have been seen in other areas of the world hence we should take heed before it is too late.

Tree farming is to our advantage. Zambia should not contribute to atmospheric pollution and erratic rainfalls experienced in certain parts of the would due to destruction of the forests. Instead let us contribute by planting more trees and plantations that are beneficial to our country.

The wood processing companies dotted all over the country must be user friendly of this natural resource. They should if anything contribute to establishing of plantations from which they reap millions of kwacha. Construction companies and those involved in carpentry equally should contribute to caring of trees and plantations and not only again just reap this product but to cherish it because the timber which they are able to use, makes money and also creates employment.

Man as we know needs water for survival and as they say water is life, and is needed for industries, our livestock, crops and many other uses. Life cannot be there if water is absent or lacking. Yet, it is these same trees and plantations in general that enable us to have water readily available.

Finally, the thing we should all know and if we do not is that, the fertile soil on which we grow our food crops is because of the trees, the forest per se. The trees prevent the soil from being eroded away by other forces of wind and water. The soil is also protected from the sun and when they die forest or tree remains enrich the soil for our farmers to use and grow crops to feed us.

What the government has re – embarked upon should not stop at demonstration but should be in full force all over the country to re-irrigate the natural resource. Tree farming let it be our annual activity.

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