Another reserve forest plundered

Statement on Degazzation of Maposa Forest Reserve No.4 28th February 2021

Care for Nature Zambia is deeply pained and disturbed by News carried in Ilyashi Lyesu on 26th February 2021 stating that the President has signed Statutory Instrument No. 1 of 2021 to permit degazzation of Maposa Forest Reserve No. 4 and allow Luanshya Municipal Council to begin planning the land for settlement of 25, 000 people.

This development has come at a time when Zambia is witnessing the devastating impact of Climate Change best example being flash floods which are costing government huge sums of money to resettle and provide relief aid to the affected families through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit. We as a country also felt the impact of load shedding both on domestic and commercial businesses which came about as a result of low waters in our water bodies that support hydroelectricity.

Maposa forest is a rain belt shielding Fisenge, Mpongwe, Masaiti and other farmers in Ndola and Luanshya Rural from pollution legacies arising from 100 of mining on the copper belt which has devastated people’s livelihoods including the ecosystem visa a vie Kafue River. Replacing Maposa Forest with a settlement will have future consequences that will affect people in a negative way, therefore I am kindly appealing to the President his Excellency Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the Forestry Department to rethink this decision and make wider consultations before the forest is altered.

The forestry Act of 2015 provides for Joint Forestry Management which empowers communities living near forests to participate in forest conservation and benefit from revenue derived from the forests. What Maposa needs is a Nature Conservancy that will empower the said 25, 000 residents with green jobs ranging from bee keeping, mushroom growing, charcoal briquettes, caterpillar harvesting and local food, fruits and medicine processing. This way both the community and the environment benefits and the changes of accelerating climate change are reduced. But if the area is converted into a settlement and all the natural vegetation is cleared, we shall be setting ourselves a deadly trap that will be irreversible. It may take 1 year to clear a forest, but it takes about 25 to 30 years to grow a forest.

As we prepare to Commemorate World Forestry Day on 21st March under the Theme: Forest Restoration; a path to recovery and wellbeing, let us weigh the benefits that arise from forest conservation and also adhere to both our national and international treaties to conserve our environment and its natural resources.

Nsama Musonda Kearns
Executive Director – CaNZ

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