6 January 2013

Zambia: State Set to Lift Timber Export Ban

Government will soon lift the ban on the exportation of timber, Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Wylbur Simuusa has said.

Mr Simuusa announced this during the launch of the National Tree Planting Programme and opening of the 2012/2013 forest season in Chongwe on Thursday.

The minister said the Government had held a series of successful meetings with stakeholders such as the Timber Association of Zambia after the ban came into effect.

"I would like to announce that with the successful meetings, we have had some understanding and I wish to report that shortly I will be lifting the ban on timber with conditions," he said.

He said current statistics indicated that Zambia's deforestation levels stood at 250,000 to 300,000 per hectare annually.

This entails that the country has one of the highest deforestation levels in the world.

Mr Simuusa said first Republican President Kenneth Kaunda's government had a policy on national tree planting and that the current Government had come up with a similar programme.

"I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the first Republican President. I would like to acknowledge that the trees we are enjoying now were planted in the time of UNIP with our first Republican President," he said.

Chieftainess Nkomeshya, who attended the tree planting launch, was happy that the programme had been launched.

"We were planting under his (Dr Kaunda) administration. We were planting trees every year from 15th December to about (December) 21. But those who came after him they said 'it was primitive, we can't do that'," she said.

The traditional leader said she was committed to ensuring that the tree planting programme was fully implemented in her chiefdom.

Area Member of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Masebo was equally happy with the development, particularly for choosing to launch it in her constituency.

She said Chongwe faced high deforestation levels because of the indiscriminate cutting down of trees for charcoal burning.

Ms Masebo said as a result, some rivers and streams were drying up, thereby causing water shortages in Chongwe District.

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