National Tree Planting Day
National Tree-Planting Day is the Forestry Commission’s flagship campaign. Commemorated every year on the first Saturday of December, the day is set aside to motivate the nation to plant and conserve trees, to enlighten the nation on the importance of forest and woodland resources, to enhance biodiversity, to enhance household food security and to mitigate the impacts of climate change
What is done to ensure survival of the planted seedlings?
From the skills provide d by FC on protection and care for planted trees over the years we have registered at least 70 percent survival of planted trees. We always encourage people to plant trees during the rainy season which guarantees that even in the absence of people to constantly water the seedlings, they will get moisture. Forestry Commission is well placed in the communities where we have officers in all the districts, The officers ensure that follow-ups are made on areas planted to see to it that all plants survive and that in the unfortunate circumstance that they don’t then efforts are made to replace the ones that would not have made it. Recently our Mashonaland Eastteam carried out a tree planting activity to replace seedlings that did not make at the 2010 Presidential tree-planting site- Chishawasha Primary School. In any area that we register 10 percent and above deaths of seedlings we carry out what we call blanking.
What programs exist to complement tree planting?
Tree Growing and Tree-Care program (TGTC)- This is targeted at schools where children are taught the significance of trees in our lives and are provided with the technical know-how on nursery establishment, seed production, in preparation for tree planting. We hold farmer field days/ Farmer training workshops on woodland management/Look and learn tours of successful projects where our tree farmers get to meet and share ideas on proper woodland management with technical advice from our officers, agroforestry for fodder crops to feed animals and soil improvement, beekeeping projects as a tool for forest resource management. Such days ensure that technical advice and training is available for ordinary people who are interested in tree planting. One of our most important programs is the Tobacco Wood Energy Program (TWEP) which confronts the effects of tobacco production which currently is contributing 15 percent of the country’s rate of deforestation. The program offers a sustainable solution to the problem. This program has been in existence since 2004 and it has proven to be the way to go. It encourages Tobacco farmers to set aside a piece of land where they plant fast growing, renewable tree species which they harvest for tobacco curing. This safeguards our indigenous forests.
TREE OF THE YEAR
What is the criteria for selection of the tree of the year?
Every year a specific tree is declared Tree of The Year. This tree is chosen based on the criteria that it is indigenous to Zimbabwe, it has important food and/or medicinal properties, that it has potential to significantly contribute to the socio-economic well-being of the country and that Zimbabwe can generally benefit from the widespread propagation of the species. Some are identified because they are rare and can possibly become extinct.
How does that help towards the tree-planting drive?
This strategy works as a rallying point on afforestation where the whole nation focuses on planting that particular species among others. It helps to ensure that our indigenous species do not become extinct. While we value exotic trees for their various economic contributions, our indigenous species remain important as they are of greater economic value and also define a country and a culture. It is indigenous forests that support biological diversity. Indigenous trees are slow growing and are very difficult to replace when they have been cut down so there is always need to intensify efforts in the replanting of our indigenous trees. However tree planting is not limited to the indigenous species of the year. We continue place importance on the planting of all varieties of trees including fruit trees.
How do you ensure that this tree is available for all the people that particular year?
By the time we announce the tree of the year, Forestry Commission already has the species in stock in its nurseries around the country. At the same time we publicize to farmers early in the year so they also produce in their nurseries.
What You Can Do To Contribute to the Tree Planting Campaign this season
- Establish nurseries and raise seedlings for your own and your community needs. (Learn how to grow your trees from seed)
- Set aside pieces of land and establish woodlots. (this is especially important now with the energy challenges facing the country where firewood has become a readily available alternative to electricity in urban areas. We need to have our own woodlots to harvest from and not cut down indigenous forests).
- Plant a tree on National Tree Planting Day and throughout the tree planting season.
- Replace all trees that you cut down (There are instances when it’s necessary to cut down a tree for example when the trees pose a danger to human life or infrastructure). Just remember- Cut one, Plant many.