Midlands Province is facing challenges of deforestation as most households are now switching to use of firewood as an alternative source of energy, 80 percent of households in urban areas are now using fuel wood for cooking and heating. The major source of fuel wood are the areas surrounding the urban areas and farms. The Forestry Commission first inspects all the farms where land clearing has been requested and offer recommendations.
“We reject land clearing on farms for agriculture if there are environment problems that may arise after opening or if there are no satisfactory reasons for opening to expand agricultural fields, but if the purpose of clearings would be firewood selling and in such situations we reject the application”, said Rodrick Nyahwai, Midlands Provincial Forestry Commission Manager.
Also charcoal production illegal settlements, illegal mining activities and veld fires are other causes of deforestation in Midlands Province. Charcoal production is rampant in Gokwe North, Copper Queen area and Sebakwe area in Kwekwe. Illegal settlements which are in Gokwe South around Chemagora farms and Mapfungautsi Forest. The mining areas where chrome mining is practiced and deforestation is rampant are Shurugwi, Zvishavane, Chirumanzu and Mberengwa. Mine timbering activities have caused deforestation in most farms around Munyati area near Kweklwe, where gold mining activities are more pronounced.
According to Nyahwai, Forestry Commission is working very hard to control deforestation despite shortage of vehicles and fuel.
“We are doing some blitz every month where our officers do patrols with the assistance of Zimbabwe Republic Police. Recently we had an operation code named ‘Huni Dzabvepi” where over 200 firewood dealers were arrested”, said Nyahwai.
He also said 600 cubes of firewood,160 bags of charcoal were confiscated, and 23 vehicles were impounded for illegal transportation of firewood during the blitz.