…loggers accused of destroying environment, disregarding locals
Massive logging of Lupane’s mahogany and hardwood by people from outside of the district is provoking resentment among locals who feel their natural resources are getting exploited and their environment destroyed for no economic benefit to them.
Villagers from many wards who spoke to EnviroPress said the logging was being done mostly by companies and individuals from Harare who neither employ locals nor plough back to the community.
They complain that much of the wood is exploited illegally, with the local authority being prejudiced of potential revenue.
As a result, they claim, the district’s massive forest heritage is being destroyed in a manner which is neither environmentally sustainable nor economically helpful to the district.
“Our district is blessed with abundant umganu (mahogany) and umtsviri (hardwood) trees but much of that is being cut down and ferried by outsiders.
“The timber is used in furniture-making but we also hear some of the wood is being used to cure tobacco in other districts. It seems most of the people who are doing the logging are ferrying their cargo to Harare,” said one local.
Another one said some loggers received covert political protection as nothing is done to them even though they destroy the environment and do not remit anything to the government or the local authority.
“They do not employ local and we feel that local resources should in a way be beneficial locals first. These are natural resources that cannot be replaced once fully-exploited. There is deforestation happening with no plan to replace the trees that are being cut down,” said the villager.
Kusile Rural District Council (RDC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Christopher Chuma asked that questions be sent to him by email but he did not reply for several days prior to this publication.
EnviroPress also sought comment from Kusile district Forestry Extension Officer Sandra Nyambira who acknowledged that the district faced persistent problems of illegal logging activities.
“As Forestry Commission, we encounter challenges of people who go to communal areas as well as protected areas for illegal logging and we are working very hard to fight that practice. In protected areas for example, we have forest guards who help to keep those areas safe. People who are caught cutting down trees without permission from us as the regulatory body are prosecuted in terms of the Forestry Act,” said Nyambira.
Lupane is home to many coveted indigenous tree species some of them protected in the Ngamo Forest reserve which many feel could soon be under serious threat if no decisive action plan to end unregulated logging activities is not implemented.