More forest rangers will soon be deployed to curb the destruction of forests, said Zambian Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Jean Kapata.
Kapata said deploying the guards will also strengthen the fight against the illegal trade in Mukula trees.
“We are looking at recruiting at least 450 new forest guards to strengthen the conservation of our forests,” she said.
Zambia has a high rate of deforestation, estimated at 250 000 ha per year by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The country has more than 44 million hectares of forests.
Efforts to curb the indiscriminate cutting down of trees by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) have done little to halt the alarming deforestation rate.
Driving this is the high dependence on charcoal by urban and rural households as their primary source of energy. A recent power hike by the power utility company ZESCO is also expected to increase demand for charcoal.
Kapata said government aims to reduce the encroachment and indiscriminate cutting down of trees for charcoal production by strengthening the monitoring of forests.
On the illegal trade in Mukula, Kapata said government successfully managed to control the situation by working with the army.
“Having more forest rangers will also help to step up efforts of curbing the cutting down of Mukula tree,” she said.