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Provincial Newspapers Pungwe News

Chiefs to Lead Timber Preservation


MUTARE- Local chiefs in Manicaland have been roped in by players in the
timber industry to lead the fight against the destruction of timber forests which
have been identified as the key driver of economic growth in Manicaland.

In recent years, areas under forest plantations have significantly declined due to
the mushrooming of illegal settlers who are allegedly causing uncontrolled veld
fires as they clear land for farming.

Allied Timbers Chief executive officer, Remigio Nenzou said the company last
year alone lost 958 hectares of timber across all plantations in the province. It
lost 343 ha in Chisengu, 178ha in Gwendigwe, 200ha in Tandai, 67ha in
Mutema and 85ha in Nyangui.

Veld fires, mining, theft and illegal settlements were identified as the key
drivers in the destruction of these forests.

“It is no secret that fire is a thorn in our flesh. In 2023 alone, 958 have been
damaged by fire. The numbers are giving us sleepless nights as we are losing
our timber resource base. In 2021, through the Belarus Facility we acquired fire-
fighting equipment to tackle this problem, nevertheless this has brought little
relief as we are unable to fully respond to outbreaks,” said Nenzou.

Nenzou added that illegal settlers were occupying 14 000ha of their plantations
with timber poachers a constant menace for the company as well.

“If estates are razed down due to fires or other disruptions by communities who
are scoundrels, it also means that there is no timber to talk about and no Allied
Timbers to benefit from. We need you Madzimambo to campaign against
invasions, fire outbreaks and other social ills like gold panning.

“We are an organisation that values community growth hence we utilise every
opportunity to assist communities the best way we can. However, with the rate
at which fire is ravaging our forests our aim to promote socio-economic
development of communities might be hindered. It is my fervent hope that
chiefs, together with the Minister of State for Manicaland will help us protect
our forests because they are our heritage and history,” said Nenzou.

Speaking during a chiefs’ engagement luncheon with Allied Timbers recently,
Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs and Devolution, Misheck Mugadza
said traditional leaders were strategic partners in ensuring the sustainable
management of timber plantations in Manicaland.

“We are gathered here because we have one thing in common, the availability
of timber plantations in your areas of jurisdiction. Timber is one of the major
economic drivers in the country, and especially in Manicaland and it is
incumbent upon us to support this industry for the economic growth of our

“Chiefs have the direct contact with villagers and have earned the respect of
their subjects, it is on this that traditional leaders should take up the opportunity
to educate people on the need to preserve plantations and the benefit it brings to
local communities,” said Minister Mugadza.

Minister Mugadza added that the provincial Gross Domestic Product(GDP)
could be increased if timber production and value addition was ramped up in

Plans are afoot to resettle 500 illegal settlers in the Chikwakwa area of
Chimanimani once construction of the Chikwakwa Irrigation Scheme is

This will see each household being apportioned between 0,5 to 1hactare at the
irrigation scheme.

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