PRESIDENT Michael Sata yesterday launched the National Tree Planting Programme which will create more than 200,000 jobs.
This will be realised once the Forestry Department in the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection is restructured.
Government has provided KR12 million (K12 billion) for implementation of the programme.
President Sata said the Government would raise 25 million tree seedlings countrywide during the 2013 to 2014 season.
He said this during the launch of the programme in Kanakantapa area in Chongwe District in a speech read for him by Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba.
"The Government will restructure the Forestry Department so that it can effectively and efficiently spearhead the implementation of the programme.
"It is expected that when this programme is fully operational, more than 200,000 jobs will be created in the forestry sector in the short-term. This is in line with the Patriotic Front manifesto on job creation," Mr Sata said.
The theme of the programme is 'Tree planting for poverty alleviation and economic development' and would facilitate the establishment of 2,000 hectares of exotic forest plantations in each province.
Community woodlots would also be established while the Public Private Partnership concept would be employed.
Mr Sata said the Government would raise 11,000,000 tree seedlings for enrichment planting in forest concession areas.
He, however, observed that the programme could not succeed without sound forest management and protection practices.
The President noted that a programme of such magnitude could not effectively be implemented by Government alone and thus implored the private sector to participate.
He implored churches, schools, non-governmental organisations, and traditional leaders and their subjects to be actively engaged in the noble task.
He commended Konkola Copper Mines for its financial support towards the planting of 100, 000 trees in Chingola and the Department of Resettlement in the Office of the Vice-President for providing land for a large-scale tree nursery.
"I expect all our people to fully cooperate and get involved to ensure the success of this programme," he said.
The President said people should desist from the indiscriminate cutting down of trees as proper management and utilisation of trees had the potential to turn the country around.
"Distinguished guests, trees do not only alleviate poverty by sustaining sound and productive ecosystems for agriculture and water development on which all of us depend. Trees and forests assist in the reduction of greenhouse gases which have led to global warming resulting in climate change today.
"Zambia's emissions of greenhouse gases through man-induced deforestation are high, hence our Government's resolve to embark on a massive afforestation and re-afforestation programme," he said.
Speaking at the same function, first Republican President Kenneth Kaunda said the Government deserved commendation for embarking on the programme.
"This occasion, if it is not understood by us Zambians, then we are lost," he said.
Lands, Natural resources and Environmental Protection Minister, Wylbur Simuusa bemoaned the high levels of deforestation.
Mr Simuusa said the Government was determined to reverse the trend.
The programme was attended by several Cabinet and deputy ministers.