Dead in the water: Masvingo’s trees program hard to resurrect

…city runs for decades without planting any tree

Moses Ziyambi

Despite running a nursery where seedlings of various tree species are nurtured, City of Masvingo has hardly planted and grown any tree for over two decades, with all new areas of residence having only fruit trees planted by homeowners.

The city operates a nursery close to the Craft Centre along the road to Beitbridge but for all these years, there is nothing to show of it except sales to private buyers of seedlings.

The nursery has done very little, if anything at all, to help replenish the city’s old and dwindling tree population.

When asked why the local authority had no trees in all suburbs that were built after independence, Town Clerk Edward Mukaratirwa said it was unfortunate that the city had ignored the issue for such a long time.

“The section responsible had been sleeping on duty for all that long but we seek to rectify the situation now. We are rolling out a massive tree planting exercise this year; our Parks and Gardens Section is planning to plant not less than 1000 trees this year,” said Mukaratirwa, who only became substantive town clerk this year.

Mukaratirwa became acting town clerk in September 2018 after taking over from Adolf Gusha who had held the position since 2004 until his retirement.

Mukaratirwa said the local authority will plant a mixture of indigenous and exotic trees ‘across the whole city but mainly in new suburbs; Eastvale, Zimre, Hillside, Target Kopje, KMP and Runyararo South West.’

Most of the trees in the city were planted by the old Fort Victoria Municipality of the pre-independence era, and are now over 60 years old.

Many of them, especially the jacaranda species, now pose a serious a threat to residents and their properties as they are no longer strong enough to withstand even less adverse weather conditions.

Some of the old trees crackle and fall down on their own, and they give in to the slightest pressure in storms and strong winds.

The city is seldom pro-active in identifying old and weakened trees for felling, and it often responds to fallen trees that would have damaged property or blocked roads.

In light of climate change phenomenon which is characterized by many things including global warming, trees are a vital resource in creating smart cities with a lower carbon footprint.