TREES are an essential component of life because they offer a wide range of benefits to the environment.
The list of benefits that trees provide is so long that one might believe that it is an exaggeration when in fact not.
Reduced pollution, erosion control, wildlife habitat, energy saving and enhanced human comfort are all well known long-term consequences of tree planting.
It is a fact that countries which destroyed their vegetation have had to reap terrible results like drought and hunger among other devastating consequences.
Tree planting is, therefore, one of the cheapest and most effective ways to bring about widespread improvement in the environment and the quality of life of an area.
Even in areas with over-concreted land and water shortage, plants and trees play a huge role in regulating temperature and air quality.
However, the rate at which people cut down trees is higher than the rate at which fresh ones are being planted.
This is evidenced by a number of charcoal burners who cut down several trees without any immediate plans to replenish them.
In Livingstone, various stakeholders have resolved to start planting trees in the city to make the area greener especially as part of their countdown to the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly next year.
During the official launch of the 365 days countdown to next year's UNWTO general assembly last month, Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo launched the tree planting exercise symbolically when she planted a tree in the city.
Recently, tourists and other stakeholders in Livingstone commenced a tree planting exercise to promote a clean and green environment in the city ahead of the general assembly to be held from August 24 to 29, 2013.
Some stakeholders who participated in the tree planting exercise included Livingstone Town Clerk Vivian Chikoti, Livingstone Museum director Vincent Katanekwa and members of the environment and health sub-committee of the 2012 World Tourism Day organising committee.
The exercise was also part of preparations for this year's World Tourism Day celebrations which would be held on September 27 under the theme 'Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development'.
Since the official launch of the 365 days countdown to the general assembly, about 30 trees have been planted around Victoria Falls premises as well as other parts of Livingstone.
Livingstone Press Club, which is an association of journalists and other media practitioners in Southern Province, is also planning to plant trees around the Livingstone General Hospital area on September 20, 2012.
Wildlife and Conservation Society of Zambia (WCSZ) Livingstone Chapter chairperson Benjamin Mibenge, who is a strong advocate of the tree planting exercise, says every person who cuts down a tree should plant more trees.
"If you cut one tree, you must plant three more trees and look after them to ensure that they grow," he said.
Mr Mibenge is of the view that people who have no plans to plant new trees should not be allowed to cut any vegetation.
He says the tree planting exercise in Livingstone was meant to promote a greener environment and improve the outlook of the city.
Mr Mibenge, who bemoaned the recent cutting of a historical tree on Airport Road after Wasawange Lodge in Livingstone, said there was need to plant new trees as the rate of deforestation in Zambia was high.
"We have resolved to be planting trees in Livingstone as one of the activities as we countdown to the UNWTO general assembly next year," he said.
A tourist from Switzerland, Camille Favre, who also participated in the tree planting exercise in the tourist capital recently, said trees were an important source of life.
Ms Favre, who visited Livingstone recently for a holiday, said it was important that all citizens of Zambia participated in the tree planting exercise.
"I have named the tree I planted after my name as Camille so that I don't forget it. I will come back to Livingstone again in future to check on the same tree," she said.
Ms Favre said Livingstone was a peaceful, friendly and nice place to visit and that she enjoyed visiting the Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-tunya National Park.
According to Livingstone City acting public relations manager Emmanuel Sikanyika, trees are important because they add to the beauty of the environment and provide protection from the heat.
Mr Sikanyika urged all Livingstone residents to embrace the tree planting exercise to keep the city green and clean.
"As Livingstone City Council, we want to be the heartbeat of Zambia in terms of appreciating our environment especially that we are the country's tourist capital.
"We are therefore encouraging all individuals, corporate citizens including Government departments and other associates to come on board and support tree planting and keeping of Livingstone clean and green," he said.
Ministry of Tourism and Arts South-West regional tourism development coordinator Harold Mweene said trees were an important aspect of tourism.
Mr Mweene said without the forests, it would be difficult for tourists and other guests to appreciate nature and other tourism products.
He noted there was a lot of charcoal burning in the country which ultimately disturbed wildlife habitation, hence efforts should be made to replenish the environment.
"You can't talk of life without trees and hence we all need to make efforts to replenish the environment," he said.
The tree planting exercise in Livingstone is certainly adding value to preparations for next year's UNWTO general assembly.
Trees are important, valuable and necessary and, therefore, people who cut them should always make an effort to plant new ones.