Wednesday, June 19, 2024

State wants forests to be managed, utilised sustainably

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By BENEDICT TEMBO

Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Collins Nzovu is disappointed with the mining activities that are taking place in the North Swaka National Forest Reserve.

This came to light when a team of officers comprising the Forestry and Meteorological departments, and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) visited North Swaka National Forest and Mkushi Headwaters National Forest to inspect the status of the forest.
It has been noted that forest reserves has been encroached with illegal mining.

This was despite efforts made by the Forest Department and North Swaka Trust to address the challenge by removing or stopping 14 illegal mining operations that were spotted in different parts of the protected reserves.

At the time of inspections, two were found to be still operating and have caused large scale damage to portions of the forest area.
Opulent Wealthy Investments Limited and Zejun Investments Limited were found operating in the forest without applicable approvals from ZEMA and the Forest Department. Two company supervisors from Opulent Wealthy Investment Limited have since been arrested for operating without ZEMA and Forestry Department authorisation and will appear in court soon.

The Ministry is also investigating another company called Zejun Investments Limited that is also illegally operating without a permit.
“The Ministry would like to warn those that are indiscriminately mining without approval in forest reserves to stop forthwith failure to which, those found wanting will be prosecuted in line with the Forest Act No. 4 of 2015. These efforts are aimed at protecting the forests, eco – systems, biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable forest management,” Mr Nzovu said.

.He re-echoed that Government wants to ensure economic growth in all sectors but it needs to be done in a sustainable manner.

The Ministry will continue conducting compliance monitoring activities to ensure environmental protection and sustainability.

And speaking during a meeting with Central Province minister Credo Nanjuwa, Mkushi District Commissioner Jonathan Kapungwe, Mkushi Council chairperson Nelson Chilemu and other Government officials, Mr Nzovu urged the local authority to strive to stop illegal mining in the district which was high.

In addition, the minister called for combined efforts in sensitising investors and local communities on illegal mining.
And Mr Nanjuwa said anything illegal will not be tolerated in the province.
Hon. Nanjuwa said crime should not be massaged and the country should have law abiding citizens for the good of the people.

One of the miners in Mkushi. Picture by the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment
One of the miners in Mkushi. Picture by the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment

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