Environmentalists from across the country are set to join forces in the fight against deforestation in the third edition of the environment walkathon set for this month. The walkathon that is being organised by the Friends of The Environment, a group of individuals and corporates focussed on fighting deforestation in all its forms, will take place from November 28 to December 1.
Mr Phillip Mataranyika, one of the founding trustees of FOTE, said this year's walkathon would be held over three days because of the shorter distance involved.
He said walkers would leave Harare on November 28, heading eastwards to Mutoko where they will join the rest of the nation in events marking the National Tree planting day on December 1.
Mr Mataranyika said the walkathon is aimed at getting Zimbabweans to plant more trees in the wake of the careless destruction of the country's forests whose impact worldwide is beginning to take a toll on agriculture, the mainstay of the country's economy, through global warming.
He said FOTE has set a target of planting 500 million trees by 2026, a target believed to be achievable once all the nurseries targeted for adoption by corporates affiliated to the grouping start operating at full capacity.
"We have more than 200 participants who will take part in this year's walkathon. On our way to Mutoko, we have lined up exciting activities to keep morale high during the walkathon and to provide entertainment for people who shall be pouring out of the surrounding communities to join us during different legs of the walkathon," said Mr Mataranyika.
He said the group was appealing to Zimbabweans to join in planting trees during the walkathon and help save the nation's forests.
Forests are being wiped out by people who cut down trees for cooking, heating or curing their tobacco and also for furniture.
Statistics reveal that the country is losing trees at the rate of 330 000 hectares every year which amount to 528 million trees.
Mr Mataranyika said a citizenry that is well informed about the dangers of cutting down trees is an empowered citizenry that would act for life by restoring the depleted forests and not act for death by aggravating the situation as is currently the case.
He sad FOTE has joined forces with the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe to set in motion a massive programme to create new nurseries as well as revitalise the existing ones to enable them to meet the anticipated demand for saplings.
"These nurseries should, with the passage of time, be able to produce 50 million seedlings per year and ultimately 500 million trees should be planted by 2026. It is a toll order which is, however, achievable," said Mr Mataranyika.
FOTE launched the inaugural walkathon in 2010, which saw participants walking 275km from Gweru to Harare while the second edition ended in Mutare covering a distance of 270km.
Mr Mataranyika said the walkathons would cover all 10 provinces in Zimbabwe in the following 10 years.