BY VICTOR CHABINGA
It is sad to note that Zambia loses 276, 000 hectors which translates to 100 million trees per annum. The loss of trees is attributed to unsustainable harvesting practices and the demand for household energy – charcoal. Over 60 truckloads of charcoal move into the City to supply to local markets and businesses.
This alarming statistic calls for serious mitigation measures to halt the environmental catastrophe that is about to happen in the Country.
Across Zambia, according to the World Bank, worsening impacts of climate change including more frequent and intense droughts and floods have led to food, water and energy insecurity, especially among the country’s most vulnerable rural communities.
The impact of deforestation has resulted into global warming, drought, climate change and soil erosion.
Forests are multifunctional resources which can provide firewood, food, they regulate the water and carbon cycles, they provide oxygen and they protect the biodiversity.
According to a Research conducted by some scholars in Zambia, due to the charcoal production, the country is one of the most important countries at global level for deforestation.
One sustainable way of mitigating the impending environmental crisis, which has already started manifesting through various climate change disasters is to start planting trees.
One Organization spearheading the initiative of planting trees in Zambia is Plant a Million Zambia.
Plant A Million Zambia is a tree planting initiative with an expanse ambition of setting an example for the whole of Africa in the creation of a tree-based economy. It was founded by Emmanuel Chibesakunda and was launched by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu on 30th of April 2018 at Kapasa Makasa University in Chinsali, with the objective of making Zambia a green, clean and healthy economy.
Speaking during the Launch, President Lungu expressed hope that plant a million initiative will significantly contribute to reducing deforestation which has earned Zambia a bad name of being one of the most deforested countries in Africa as a result of uncontrolled harvesting of trees.
The organization is training farmers to protect, stabilize, revitalize and diversify their fields using proven techniques.
“Growing trees for food security, nutrition & sustainable agroforestry to improve the livelihoods of impoverished farmers by revitalizing degraded lands is our aim, “narrates Joseph Mwanza, Technical Director at Plant A Million.
Mr. Mwanza further states that the mission of the movement is to create a tree-based economy which will help mitigate climate change with economic benefits for Zambia.
Farmers are experiencing significant changes in rainfall, storms and temperatures. The organization has devised ways of helping farmers by supplying fast growing and indigenous plants to support agroforestry and generate profits.
The Technical Director also explains that Plant a Million tells farmers that planting windbreaks of trees helps the soil hold more moisture and organic matter, while also attracting birds that keep pests at bay.
Farmers are also encouraged to plant contour rows to stop erosion and allow nitrogen-fixing trees to build topsoil and applying composting and mulching to revitalize the dry and degraded land.
Mr. Mwanza further hints that farmers are taught to start planting own fuelwood and animal fodder, as well as improving the growing conditions of their fields and planting crops that are naturally drought and rain tolerant, without the need for modified seeds.
Plant a Million Zambia restores natural ecosystems by providing resources such as food, fuel, and timber; the purification of air and water; the detoxication and decomposition of wastes; the regulation of climate and the regeneration of soil fertility and also the pollination of crops.
In its quest to reach out to more people and plant more trees, the organization has partnered with other stakeholders.
Plant A Million Zambia (PAM), SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGE and Radisson Blu Hotel Lusaka is embarking on a ‘Think Project on Environmental Education in Zambia’. The project aims at setting up nurseries in schools to educate children on the importance of planting trees and environmental projection for current and future generations.
Plant A Million Zambia focuses on Education, Economy, and Ecology in its promotion of planting trees. In this regard, the organization has commenced the Tree Nursey Project in Educational Institutions. These facilities will become Centers of Excellence for orienting a mindset shift from early childhood. This is complemented with the development of Environmental Educational curriculum. Plant A Million will potentially be a pioneer in championing educational based campaigns.
The pillar on Economy focuses on developing Value Chains based on Forestry Economies. The organization is partnering with the Private Sector to bring on board technologies and innovations to process and package these products. The last Pillar on Ecology focuses on the protection of water resources for human development and agricultural productivity.
The Partnership was launched during the World Environmental Day Celebration hosted through a Corporate Executives’ Cocktail held at the Radisson Blu Hotel. It sets a tone of dedicated corporate support towards achieving environmental sustainability.
In his remarks, the Radisson Blu Hotel General Manager, Nils Rothbarth, echoed the company’s vision through its corporate social responsibility to continue to partner with organizations that can further its objectives. In this regard, the Hotel has committed to provide resources for the implementation of the Tree Planting project to be done in partnership with SOS Children’s Village Zambia.
The SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGE Zambia Country Director, Adern Nkandela, expressed profound gratitude to have a Flagship project set up at their facility. “This will go a long way in strengthening family support systems in regenerating forests and contributing to a healthier planet,” he said.
Plant A Million Zambia is working with farmers and schools in Lusaka,Chipata and Livingstone.
With these initiatives and more, it is of great hope that the effects of deforestation will be mitigated for the better of our environment and the future generation. Stop Talking. Start Planting! VC/LSK/NAIS/ENDS...