Zim govt sued over deforestation

Women collecting wood in Kariba

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
17 June 2014

A Zimbabwean farmer has taken the ZANU PF government to the High Court because of rampant deforestation around prime tobacco growing areas.

Never Gasho, a farmer in Karoi, is seeking to compel the government to stop the deforestation of indigenous trees.

He has argued in a court application that the alarming rate of deforestation in tobacco farming areas had prompted him to sue the government.

In his application filed on Tuesday last week, Gasho listed Parliament, the Ministers for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Environment, Water and Climate, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Environment Management Agency and the Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe as respondents.

“We are all racing against time as people are cutting trees every minute indiscriminately in preparation for the next tobacco growing season,” he said.

Gasho said the respondent have a constitutional mandate to protect indigenous trees, and that policies must be formulated to prevent tobacco farmers from using indigenous trees during tobacco curing.

“The indiscriminate cutting down of trees has a serious effect on our weather pattern. The depletion of trees…reduces the value of our land as it slowly turns into a desert. Once the land turns into a desert we cannot give back the value of our indigenous trees,” he said.

Tobacco farming has witnessed a partial recovery in Zimbabwe since the land grab campaign that saw the agricultural sector face total collapse. More and more small scale farmers have been turning to tobacco because it is a ready ‘cash crop’, and this has seen an escalation in the numbers of producers.

The rest of the agricultural sector, including the production of critically needed food, remains stagnant.

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