Veld fires and theft affecting woodlots

By Bathel Shuro

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CHINHOYI – Veld fires and theft from woodlots are major stumbling blocks affecting Tobacco
Wood Energy Programme (TWEP).
TWEP was introduced as a magic bullet for tackling issues of deforestation caused by use of
firewood during the process of tobacco curing. However, veld fires and theft have been a major
drawback to this remedy, meaning there is need for the matter to be addressed urgently.
Chinhoyi Forestry Commission’s Makonde District Forestry Extension Officer, Wisdom Nduku,
said veld fires were their biggest challenge where woodlots were concerned. We are still
collecting statistics, right now so I can’t give you accurate statistics because the promoters are
compiling figures from farmers.
A case of 40 hectares was reported in Makonde District, where farms affected by veld fires
include Ethel Plot, Highbury Farm 19, Muni Plot and Mudonhi Plot 2," he added.
Nduku said that recently two hectares of eucalyptus out of six hectares were also burnt in
Makonde.
You find out that veld fires are the biggest challenge in terms of protection of TWEP. The other
problem is on theft of the trees at different stages of maturing.
We have theft of trees about to reach maturity stage, especially eucalyptus and species ideal for
harvesting as droppers. Farmers are hard-hit.
"A2 farmers say that their farms are large and so they cannot be providing security everywhere.
The thieves come during the night, cut down the trees, and early in the morning they would have
loaded their trucks and left.
We have one truck that was intercepted on its way to Marondera. It was full of droppers. There
is a bigger market for droppers in Harare. Droppers are used in supporting plants by tomato
farmers, so there is high demand.
Plants are being stolen for use as droppers, but even when the plants do reach the stage of use as
poles, they are also being stolen, said Nduku.
Reported theft cases include three cases at Estel Farm, Nyamuswa Ranch and Highbury 15, all
in Makonde District.

He also pleaded for the enhancement of laws that protect farmers who establish woodlots.
There should be special laws that protect the destruction of established woodlots just like laws
that protect exotic plantations in Manicaland Province.
The Forestry Act doesn’t cover protection of exotic trees in communal areas and A2 farms. It
covers protected areas and plantations such as those in Manicaland and Matabeleland provinces."

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