Authorities in Luangwa concerned with rampant charcoal burning

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A man cycling  bags of charcoal for sale from Chongwe rural to Chelstone in Lusaka
The District Administration and the Department of Forestry in Luangwa District have expressed concern and worry at the increase of charcoal burning in the area and fear that it will adversely affect the environment in the area.

Acting Luangwa District Commissioner, Jairos Simukoko and District Forestry Officer, Levy Nyangulu, have observed that the charcoal business has increased in the district and has resulted into the cutting of trees at a large scale.

Mr Simukoko and Mr Nyangulu said they have failed to control the situation as it has become the main source of livelihood for most households in the area as people did not harvest anything from their
fields due to the poor rainfall during the 2015/2016 farming season.

The Acting District Commissioner that he has of late observed thousands of charcoal bags lined along the D145 Luangwa main road and stacks of charcoal heaped in villages in readiness for sale, saying this was a worrisome situation.

He appealed to the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) under the Office of the Vice President to quickly consider sending relief maize to the district which can be sold at a reasonable price as people were being forced to cut a lot of trees to produce many bags of charcoal to enable them rise enough money to buy a 25 Kg bag of mealie meal which is going at K100 in villages.

Meanwhile, District Forestry Officer, Levy Nyangulu, said his department has found it difficult to control charcoal burning as some traditional leaders have come in to intervene on behalf of their subjects, saying they will die of hunger if they stop burning and selling charcoal.

Mr Nyangulu said some traditional leaders have stormed his office telling him not to stop people from burning and selling charcoal as it was there only means of survival as it was from the charcoal sales that they were able to buy food for their families.

He said his office has expressed concern and worry at the indiscriminate cutting of trees in the district and his department has, however, embarked on sensitising people to venture into other activities such as bee-keeping or the cutting of trees in a sustainable manner to allow the trees to germinate.

The District Forestry Officer appealed to other stakeholders to come in and help in preserving the forests in Luangwa district before the already-depleted forests in the area are completely destroyed.

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