Maputo — The southern Mozambican province of Inhambane is losing about a thousand hectares of forest a year, mostly for the production of wood fuel, reports Monday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais".
According to Zacarias Cadre, the Inhambane Provincial Director of Territorial Development and of the Environment, the province's forestry resources are under pressure because of the insatiable demand for firewood and charcoal from Maputo city.
Areas close to Maputo have already been stripped of much of their tree cover, and wood fuel has become scarce in Gaza province too. So the sellers of firewood and charcoal have moved further north, and are cutting down trees at an alarming rate in Inhambane.
Despite all the talk about switching from wood fuel to gas, a very large number of Maputo households continue to depend on charcoal for cooking - a situation that was worsened by the sudden disappearance of bottles of cooking gas from the Maputo market over the past week. Many commercial establishments, such as bakeries and restaurants, are also dependent on wood fuel.
Indiscriminate logging to produce wood fuel is also worsening erosion in Inhambane's coastal districts, notably Massinga, Morrumbene, Inhassoro and Zavala.
Speaking on Saturday, the Inhambane provincial governor, Daniel Chapo, stressed that all citizens should be involved in protecting the environment. It was crucial to prevent erosion, he said, not only along the coast, but also in the interior, where uncontrolled bush fires are taking a heavy toll on the vegetation.