Maputo, Mozambique — Zimbabwe is committed to the protection of its vast forestry resources, with Government implementing interventions geared to restore degraded forest areas and safeguard the integrity and biodiversity of woodlands, President Mnangagwa has said.
Addressing a high-level regional meeting on the protection of indigenous woodlands at Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre in Maputo, Mozambique, the President said there was need to scale up coordinated conservation and sustainable management of forests for posterity.
He said expansive fire protection systems and taxation of those responsible for exploiting forests for commercial purposes were being rolled out to engender and safeguard the integrity of forest areas.
President Mnangagwa was attending the two-day high-level session of the Regional Conference on the Sustainable and Integrated Management of Miombo Forests, hosted by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.
The conference culminated in the adoption of the Maputo Declaration on the Sustainable Management and Conservation of Indigenous Woodlands, a transnational declaration by nine African countries to protect and conserve Miombo woodlands along the Zambezi Basin.
Miombo woodlands are tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrub-land biomes located primarily in Central Africa.
They are classified as natural shock absorbers from the effects of climate change and critical absorbers of greenhouse gasses.
Addressing the conference, President Mnangagwa said he was pleased the forestry sector had gained prominence on the global biodiversity agenda over the last five years.
This, he said, will enhance awareness and contribute towards management of forests and help halt deforestation and forest degradation.
“It is significant to note that most of Zimbabwe’s inland river systems have their origins and catchment areas in Miombo woodland areas,” he said.
“In this regard, we have recognised the importance of managing these biomes to enhance the rainwater catchment capacity of the forests.”
He added: “Meanwhile, my Government is acutely aware that a significant number of the Miombo woodlands are inhabited by farming communities while some are under protection, either as gazetted forests or wildlife parks or conservancies.”
President Mnangagwa said Miombo forests were under threat from an ever growing population increasing demand for land clearance for agriculture, mining and infrastructure development.
Miombo woodlands, he said, accounted for around 37 percent of Zimbabwe’s 23 million hectares of forest cover.
“Under my Government’s National Development Strategy, measures have been put in place to facilitate improved land use management,” he said.
“These include intensive agriculture production systems, participatory agro-forestry management practices and ecosystem restoration models to bring back degraded and deforested areas.
“Zimbabwe is in the process of coming up with an ambitious yet achievable target to restore degraded forest areas under the African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR) 100 initiative, by year 2030.”
Protection of forested areas, said the President, was in the best interest of the country, which has lately suffered from the effects of rising global temperatures on account of the climate change phenomenon.
“Furthermore, Government has put in place common management practices to enhance the integrity and functionality of Miombo woodlands,” said the President.
“These include fire protection, application of indigenous knowledge system approaches and levying of those responsible for degrading forests for commercial benefits such as producers of flue-cured tobacco.”
He said the Paris Agreement Framework on Climate Change recognises the importance of sustainable management of forests as a critical intervention to forestall climate change.
“During COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow in November 2021, we reaffirmed our respective commitments to sustainable land use,” he added.
“Equally, the need to scale up the conservation, protection, sustainable management and restoration of forests together with other terrestrial ecosystems received prominence.
“Our meeting today builds on those important discussions, with emphasis on the biodiversity conservation of resources in our own region.”
Addressing the conference, President Nyusi said: “Miombo forests protect river basins, help prevent floods and absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis thereby reducing greenhouse emissions.
“These forests also reduce conflict between humans and wildlife and provide food for wildlife which no longer turn to human fields for food.”
He added: “Climate change does not respect borders; therefore, we need to work together and put national interest behind us.
“We need to act together and face one of the major threats to mankind as one.”
The event was attended by ministers responsible for environment drawn from African countries along the Zambezi Basin, climate change and conservation experts and civil society representatives.
The conference was held under the theme: “For Sustainable and Integrated Management of the Miombo in Building Resilience to Climate Change and Protection of the Great Zambezi.”
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa returned home last night.
He was received at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Zanu PF Vice President and Second Secretary Kembo Mohadi, Government Ministers and senior civil servants.