Lusaka — ZAMBIA'S forest resources are dwindling at an alarming rate, Chadiza UNIP member of parliament Phillip Zulu has said.
Seconding a motion that was moved by Chikankata UPND member of parliament, Amos Nakalonga, who urged Parliament to push the government to adequately fund afforestation projects to replace cut down trees, Zulu told the House on Wednesday that it was estimated that the annual consumption of wood fuel reaches about 11 million tonnes of wood and that two thirds of this was used as fuel wood while one third was used as charcoal. "Zambia's forest resources are dwindling at an alarming rate. The deforestation rate is estimated at 900, 000 hectares per year," he said.
Zulu further said it was estimated that about 700,000 tonnes of charcoal were consumed every year. This was projected to increase to over 1.2 million tonnes annually by the year 2010. "Charcoal is predominantly an urban fuel. It is estimated that urban households consume 45 per cent while industries consume 85 per cent. Rural households use 11 per cent. That is, the average annual consumption of firewood is estimated at 5, 000 kg in urban areas and 635 kg per household in rural areas," Zulu said.
"The consumption of charcoal on the other hand, averages to 100 kg per rural household per year and 1,040 kg per urban household. Wood fuel remains the dominant and principal sources of energy, which is consumed in form of firewood and charcoal. The Zambian household derives 96 per cent of energy from wood fuel."
He said the cutting down of trees for fuel wood and charcoal from indigenous forests was associated with the emergence and growth of urban wood markets.
Zulu said the forestry department has failed to curb the scourge because of logistical constraints.
"The forestry department in the past demarcated an area for charcoal production under license. This system failed because the charcoal burners ended up permanently settling in the forest reserves," he said.
He urged the government to seriously consider increasing funding towards measures aimed at curbing deforestation saying government's current funding towards curbing deforestation was inadequate.
"For example, in 2000 only K58 million was allocated. There was none in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, K400 million, in 2004 K545 million and in 2005, K500 million was allocated coming to a total of K1.5 billion," Zulu said.
He emphasized that there was no doubt the rate of deforestation is alarmingly high.
"Therefore, the ultimate aim of the government should be to maintain the integrity of protected forests and at the same time ensuring that open areas have adequate forest resources to meet the immediate demands of population as well as for environmental conservation," he said.
Both the MMD and the opposition parties supported the motion resulting in it being adopted.