Kalumbila District Forestry Officer, Shadreck Bwalya has expressed concern about the increasing levels of deforestation in the area mainly due to an increase in charcoal production as a result of the influx in population.
District Forestry Officer, Shadreck Bwalya says the increased mining operations in the district have contributed to population influx which in turn has increased the demand for charcoal in the communities around the mine areas.
Mr Bwalaya saying in an interview yesterday that the department in the district has embarked on sensitizing people on alternative means of benefiting from the forests as opposed to indiscriminate cutting down of trees.
“Currently we are working with Caritas Czech Republic to train refugees and Zambians on bee keeping as a business and as an alternative source of income as opposed to charcoal burning. We are also promoting the use of modern hives which we call Kenyan Top hives,” Mr Bwalya said.
He however, pointed out that most of the area in Meheba’s Block B where the training for bee keeping was taking place, has been affected by deforestation.
“We have a problem of deforestation within the area where most of the trees have been cut down to produce charcoal which the community in Meheba think it is a business where they can get quick money…but when you look at bee keeping, it only strives in areas where we have trees because these same trees which they are cutting are the same trees that provide nectar and pollen to bees for them to make honey,” Mr Bwalya said.
He further lamented that deforestation is on the rise due to increased population influx brought about by mining activities adding that there is need for continued sensitisation on deforestation in the district.
“We have to continue sensitising the community…of course, law enforcement is one thing that will help in curbing illegality within the district in terms of combating the illegal conveyance of charcoal as well as timber but sensitisation will continue even on the need to get permits as they act as one way of regulating the use of forest products,” Mr Bwalya said.
He advised community members to venture into alternative sources of income by selling other forest products like honey, mushrooms and caterpillars to help conserve the forests.
However, Mr Bwalya appealed to government to consider deploying more officers to his department to assist with field activities.
Meanwhile, chairperson for Mayendeleo Bee Keeping Group in Meheba Block B, Delvox Ilunga confirmed the high levels of deforestation in the area.
“In Block B, charcoal production is very high and it is contributing to deforestation. Government and Caritas Czech must continue to sensitise the community on deforestation so that we can have a future with bee keeping,” Mr Ilunga said.
And Mayendeleo Bee keeping group member, Joseph Kabaso said that bee keeping is good business because it is not only an income earner but it is also light duty.
Mr Kabaso said money realised from selling honey can be used to purchase more bee hives to increase the yields.
In similar line, President Hakainde Hichilema said that Zambia is among the hundred countries that have signed the Glasgow Leaders declaration on forests to stop deforestation by 2030.
President Hichilema said on his twitter that the development as a milestone for Zambia as the country moves towards harnessing renewable energy.
Mr Hichilema cited solar, wind and hydroelectricity as of the renewable sources of energy government intends to promote.