The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
ALLIED Timbers Zimbabwe is planning to plant 18 000 hectares of timber in the next three years to resuscitate its plantations and ensure a reliable supply of various kinds of timber products.
This comes amid concerns about the shortage of special types of timber in the country forcing some companies to import.
The company was born in 2003 out of the commercial division of Forestry Commission. It has three operational companies mainly involved in plantations, harvesting, processing, marketing, and retailing of both pine and gum derived timber.
Operations are highly concentrated in the Eastern Highlands, Midlands and Matabeleland producing sawn timber, poles and other value-added timber products such as doors, timber flooring and block boards, brandaring, trusses and honey.
In an interview ATZ chief executive Mr Remigio Nenzou said the company has already set in motion plans to revive its operations. He said ATZ was targeting to revive itself from legacy challenges emanating from alleged bad corporate governance of the previous management. Mr Nenzou said more than 10 000ha of timber are ready for harvesting and can last for 28 years.
“Some people talk about shortage of timber in the country which we don’t necessarily believe in. Right now we have 10 200ha of timber which is above 25 years and ready to be harvested. Assuming we harvest, it will take us 28 years so we are not aware of this shortage of timber and it’s something we need not to cry about because it is artificial,” said Mr Nenzou.
He said a tree plantation matures at 25 years from day of planting.
“We have got a three-year plan where we intend to plant 18 000ha within ATZ. This is our reclaiming agenda that is in our strategic plan and we hope in the next three years we will have planted that much,” he said.
Allied Timbers has 120 000ha in Manicaland, its main commercial plantations together with Midlands.
“About 20 000ha has not been planted hence our plans to plant 18 000ha in the next three years. This is a legacy issue which is why we want to correct it,” he said.
Mr Nenzou said the company was on a countrywide drive as part of its corporate social responsibility to engage traditional leaders and planting eucalyptus trees for them so that they can manage their own forests and do beekeeping.
He said the market was wide and varied in all provinces while the company also wants to expand to South Africa, Zambia and Botswana to dominate the region.
ATZ will early next year commission a state-of-the-art sawmill which will produce 40 000 cubic metres of cured timber suitable for the market. Allied Timbers is courting investors to retool its machinery.