The Sunday News
THE Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has injected US$116 000 for livestock fodder production and reforestation initiatives in Beitbridge to support the Forestry Commission’s plans to plant 25 million trees this summer cropping season.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe commemorated the National Tree Planting Day, which is held every first Saturday of December to promote afforestation and curb climate change, which is exacerbated by deforestation.
Under the initiative in Beitbridge, CRS partnered with Caritas Masvingo, the Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services Department and the Forestry Commission to support villagers in planting at least 5 000 plants in December alone, with more to be planted next year.
Three one-hectare pilot plots were established in different wards in Beitbridge District for the afforestation initiative, which will be replicated in other parts of the country, with fodder also provided for livestock.
Speaking at a field day to mark the National Tree Planting Day in Beitbridge on Friday, CRS head of programming, Mr Richard Savo, said his organisation is community-centred and requires full participation of local people in restoring lost forests.
“This is just the beginning; we are here for community transformation as stated by the SDG Goal 15, to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, combating desertification and stopping biodiversity loss. We fully support Government’s initiatives for reforestation.
“We will continuously fund communities through our three projects — Restoring Ecosystems and Livelihoods, Beitbridge Rangeland Improvement Project and Livestock Improvement Project in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Savo.
In a statement yesterday, Forestry Commission spokesperson Ms Violet Makoto said: “This first Saturday of December is, as per tradition, our National Tree Planting Day as Zimbabwe and we have been commemorating this day since 1980. The first National Tree Planting Day was actually on December 6, 1980.
“National Tree Planting Day is basically the launch of the tree planting season, where we are calling on everyone to contribute to the national tree planting targets for the tree planting season, so after Saturday, we have three to five months ahead of us, which gives everyone an opportunity to plant towards our target of 25 million trees for this summer cropping season.”
She said the current rate of deforestation is 252 000 hectares per annum.