Care for Nature Zambia has condemned the move by President Edgar Lungu to degazete Maposa Forest No. 4 in Luanshya.
Care for Nature Zambia Executive Firector Nsama Musonda Kearns notes that ceasing Maposa to be a forest will no doubt have devastating impacts on the water catchment area which services Luanshya and many more other towns in Zambia that lie along the Kafue River Basin.
Mrs Kearns has since called on President Lungu to reserve the decision and save the forest.
“Degazzating Maposa Forest No. 4 really makes painful and sad reading. Zambia is currently losing it’s forests at a fast rate and to go ahead with reducing forests at a time when the country has witnessed devastating impacts of climate change leaves me with a shiver for the future,” Mrs Kearns said.
“Maposa Forest is a rain belt, shielding Fisenge, Mpongwe, Masaiti and other farmers in Ndola and Luanshya Rural from pollution legacies from 100+ years 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.”
She has since appealed to the Forestry Department and President Lungu to rethink this decision and make wider consultations before the forest is destroyed.
“The Forestry Act of 2015 provides for Joint Forest Management which empowers people living near forests to participate in conservation and benefit from forestry revenue. What Maposa needs is a Nature Conservancy that will empower residents with green jobs such as bee keeping, mushroom growing, charcoal briquettes, caterpillar harvesting local food and medicine processing.”
“This way they are likely to benefit more from the forest and our Environment will also be safeguarded from climate change affects,” she advised.
“We are all witnesses to the harsh impacts of climate change referring to floods which is costing government huge sums of money through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit to resettle affected families and provide relief aid. We also felt the impacts of load shedding on both domestic and commercial businesses.”
“How then can the forestry department Recommend signing a Statutory Instrument to degazette a forests?” She asked.
The Maposa Forest Reserve No. 4 which has been signed off by government to cease being a forest lies along the Great North Road on the T3 way between Luanshya and Kitwe and stretches from the main road covering vast areas and zones within Luanshya through to Mpatamatu.
The forest is strategically reserved in Zambia’s most forested area situated in the Agro Ecological Region three also known as Zambia’s rain belt.
The Agro Ecological Region 3 covers Northern, Luapula, Copper belt and North Western provinces and consists of the highest number of forests in the country with copper belt and western Provinces standing at 37 forests each, North Western 35 and Northern 23.
This region receives the highest rainfall in the country and its forests are protected to conserve water catchment areas and protect biodiversity.
All the forests on the Copperbelt play a significant role in protecting the Kafue River Basin which supplies 40% of rural and urban settlers with water, Hosts the Kafue Gorge Hydro Electricity Power Station which supplies Zambia with 60% of electricity, provides irrigation for the Nakambala Sugar Estate in Mazabuka and services the Kafue Flats which houses the Kafue Flats, Lochinvar and Blue Lagoon National Parks, including the Lukanga Swamps which is home to a variety of fish and bird species and plays the filtering role of servicing the Kafue River from pollution.
The Maposa Forest on the Kitwe side overlooks Mwekera Forest Reserve No.6 where the Zambia Forestry College was established in 1949 to provide technical training in forestry.