The country's environment ambassador, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, yesterday joined Zanu-PF youths in tree planting and a walkathon event from Danhiko in Msasa to Goromonzi High School, the venue of this year's 18th Annual National People's Conference.
Speaking during the send-off of the youths drawn from the country's provinces, the First Lady said the event demonstrated consistency by the Department of Environment and Tourism in Zanu-PF and heralded a new approach to the National Tree Planting Day.
"As a people's party, we pride ourselves in being associated with what his Excellency President ED Mnangagwa declared and recently launched," she said. "This year we lead the nation in the tree planting awareness as we walk from Harare to Goromonzi for our 18th National People's Conference.
"We have taken this walking-and-planting trees initiative since 2013 to restore trees that are used on a daily basis and those that are lost through natural processes such as invasive alien pests, veld fires, drought and those destroyed by wildlife.
"Tobacco curing has taken more than its share from our indigenous forests, hence we encourage flue-cured tobacco farmers to plant fast-growing trees as a convenient renewable source of energy to sustain this foreign currency generating enterprise."
The First Lady thanked the youths for their commitment, unwavering support and participation in the event.
"You have exhibited that you are true custodians of our country's natural heritage and thereby setting an example for all the youths of Zimbabwe," she said.
This year's National Tree Planting Day is commemorated under the theme: "Fruit Trees for Food Security and Nutrition."
The theme, Amai Mnangagwa said, reminded the nation to integrate trees into agricultural land use systems.
"I would like to encourage all farmers to make trees part of the farming system in order to enjoy multiple benefits derived from trees and forests," she said.
"Trees and forests have innumerable functions and benefits to both living organisms and the environment. The planting and management of trees and forests positively regulates climate change and, therefore, contributes to the goals of Zimbabwe."
The First Lady urged traditional leaders to continue leading by example in planting and protecting trees and forests. Amai Mnangagwa planted the tree of the year, Garcinia Buchananii, as she led the youths in planting 50 trees at Danhiko.
Zanu-PF Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi applauded the First Lady for leading in the tree planting, adding that trees are life. Cde Togarepi said the youths were going to plant over 1 000 trees on their way at different sites.
"We want our country to remain green, trees are a source of life hence as youths we are determined to plant as many trees as we can," he said.
Garcinia Buchananii (Mutunduru) is a small evergreen tree which reaches 4 to 8 metres in height at full maturity. It is often densely branched with distinctive shiny dark green leaves above and paler green ones below, making it an attractive species of indigenous tree.
The tree is identifiable by its greenish-yellow flowers and fleshy edible fruits.
Its distribution covers areas from Sudan heading southwards through eastern Africa to Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, the tree is found in Eastern Highlands of Manicaland, spreading to some parts of Mashonaland Central and to the central and mid-Masvingo provinces.
The fruit on its own is nutritious and has a high Vitamin C content. An infusion of the bark is considered to be a good antiseptic for wounds. It is widely used in communities as a traditional anti-diarrhoeal remedy. Individual trees are good ornaments.
Politburo members Cdes Josiah Hungwe, Mike Bimha and David Parirenyatwa also attended the event.