Zimbabwe Impounds 120 Tonnes Wood, Bags of Charcoal

Zimbabwe Impounds 120 Tonnes Wood, Bags of Charcoal (News Central TV)
Prudence Mkonyo, a charcoal vendor in Zimbabwe, stands beside 50-kilogramme polythene bags full of charcoal piled on top of each other as she openly sells her wares at Mbare Musika Market in Harare, November 5, 2019. – Zimbabwe is losing more than 330,000 hectares of forest annually. Agriculture is still the number one driver of deforestation. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

In a nationwide onslaught to curb deforestation, illicit trade in wood and charcoal, a multi-task team headed by the Forestry Commission has confiscated large quantities of firewood and charcoal.

The commission said over 120 tonnes of firewood and an estimated 3,000 bags of charcoal have so far been seized since the beginning of August.

“The nationwide firewood/charcoal blitz hit Harare and other urban centres and growth points over the just-ended weekend leading to the seizure of firewood and charcoal,” the commission said.

“Harare, like most urban centres, has made firewood/charcoal trade a lucrative business much to the detriment of our forest resources. Major hotspots in Harare are at Mbudzi, Highfield, Chitungwiza – Chikwanha and Jambanja area at Unit M.

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Patrols in these areas are still in progress.”

Best Muchenje a Forestry Extension Officer inspects a pile of felled logs from the indegenous Mopani tree in a forest clearing in Mhondoro Ngezi district, on November 1, 2019. – The Mhondoro Ngezi district, some 150 kilometers from the Zimbabwe capital city Harare, has experienced increased deforestation as trees are cut down for making charcoal. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

The nationwide blitz is being spearheaded by the Forestry Commission with support from the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Environmental Management Agency, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), the police, local authorities and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement.

Violet Makoto who is the spokesperson for the Forestry Commission says in Muzarabani district alone, 1,043 bags of charcoal have been seized. In other parts of the country, large quantities of firewood and charcoal have also confiscated.

“The amount of charcoal seized will increase as we widen our operation to cover the major hotspots in the country.”

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According to the Forestry Commission, Zimbabwe loses about 60 million trees covering about 330,000 hectares of forests annually.

Of this figure, about 262,000 hectares are indigenous forests. Illegal charcoal trade is decimating fragile forest cover raising huge environmental concerns over its sustainability.

Researchers say charcoal making is increasing the loss of indigenous forests as well as worsening land degradation. In 2020, more than 30 people were arrested and fined for trading in charcoal with 1.9 tonnes of charcoal confiscated.

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