GOVERNMENT has warned foreigners against illegal harvesting and trading of the Pterocarpus Crysothrix locally known as Mukula timber.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chileshe Mulenga said in a statement yesterday that foreigners found involved in harvesting, storage, transportation and trading of Mukula timber would be declared prohibited immigrants and deported from Zambia.
"Foreign nationals involved in the harvesting, storage, transportation and trading in the Mukula tree shall not only be prosecuted in accordance with the law but shall be declared prohibited immigrants and will be deported from Zambia," he said.
Dr Mulenga also warned that Zambians found harvesting, in possession of, transporting or trading in Mukula timber would be dealt with severely and in accordance with the Penal Code.
He said that equipment, buildings and motor vehicles used in the illegal harvesting of the trees would be forfeited to the State.
He said Government was committed to protecting the nation's forest estate in accordance with the laws and in the interest of the present and future generations.
Dr Mulenga said accordingly, no one shall be spared in the fight against the illegal and wanton harvests of the nation's forest resources.
He said people should preserve the environment and livelihoods by guarding against illegal cutting and selling of Mukula trees.
He said Eastern Province has over the past few months seen unprecedented increase in illegal exploitation of forest resources.
Dr Mulenga said the environmental degradation and selective destruction of the Mukula tree species would also result in undesirable changes in the micro-climate thereby reducing underground water and biodiversity.
He said the province risked becoming a desert if the cutting down of Mukula trees was not halted.
Dr Mulenga called on people especially those in Msoro area of Mambwe, Chipata and Lundazi districts to help protect the nation's precious forest resources by reporting any person found dealing in the Mukula tree species to any Government office.
Dr Mulenga also warned civil servants more especially those operating in Vubwi District against absconding from work, saying he would not hesitate to dismiss them.