THE alarming rate at which trees are being cut down indiscriminately leaves one to wonder whether areas such as Central Province or any other part of the country should surely be left to turn into desert before we even realise it.
It is clear that the rate at which trees are being cut down without any deliberate effort to replant is a source of concern for everyone who is mindful of the environment despite their status in society.
The recent launch of the National tree planting exercise in a bid to serve our environment should not be the responsibility of government alone but calls for everyone's participation.
But it is clear that planting of trees is an individual responsibility or well meaning initiative which focuses not only on tree planting but also on after-care of the trees.
It is an important aspect of protecting the environment so that the community adopts the tree planting initiative and care for it which will not only provide shed from the scorching sun and fight deforestation and soil erosion.
Tree planting carries with it a very low cost and highly participatory initiative which can be encouraged during birthdays, anniversaries and other commemorative occasions.
Zambia can take a leaf from the youngest Germany founder Felix Finkbeiner of an environmental organisation who was inspired by the Kenyan activist to plant more trees to replace the ones which were being cut down and today millions of trees have been planted.
During his research, Felix came across a website with information on Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan activist who, together with other women in her country, had planted more than 30 million trees to fight.
Felix's class teacher was impressed and helped spread the word. Soon, Felix was sent to other schools in the area to talk about his ambition and later his school, the Munich International School in Starnberg in Southern Germany , organised the first official tree-planting drive.
The local media took an interest, other schools in the area began similar tree-planting events and Felix's idea snowballed into a local green movement according to the Deutsche Welle (DW).
' Three years later, the initiative achieved its one- millionth-trees planted in Germany and the group "Plant for the Planet" was born, making Germany's youngest founder of an environmental organisation.Recently, President Michael Sata during the launch of the programme in Kanakantapa area in Chongwe said the Government would raise 25 million tree seedlings country wide during the 2013 to 2014 season.
In his speech read for him by Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba, President Sata said the Government would 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 and assured that the Government would raise 11,000,000 tree seedlings for enrichment of planting in forest concession areas.
He, however, warned that the programme could not succeed without sound forest management and protection practices and that a programme of such magnitude could not effectively be implemented by Government alone and thus implored the private sector to participate.
The Head of State urged churches, schools, non-governmental organisations, and traditional leaders and their subjects to be actively engaged in the noble task.
The President said people should desist from the habit of indiscriminate cutting down of trees as proper management and utilisation of trees had the potential to turn the country around.
And Central Province Permanent Secretary Annie Sinyangwe said tree planting plays an important role in ensuring that it assists in serving the arid deforested areas.
Mrs Sinyangwe said her office has committed itself of supplementing the Government's efforts in seeing to it that the trees are planted in all corners of the province.
It is clear that, 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 green-house gases which have led to global warming resulting in climate change today.
Zambia's emissions of green-house gases through man-induced deforestation are high, hence our Government's resolve to embark on a massive afforestation and re-afforestation programme.
It is encouraging that the Government has committed itself to reversing the trend but this requires large-scale interventions to implement the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD).