GOODWILL Ambassadors executive director James Sakala says civil servants and businessmen are the major promoters of deforestation. Sakala said Zesco also encourages the use of charcoal due to continued loadshedding. During a stakeholders meeting on climate change at Chichi Guest House on Saturday in Sinda, Sakala said charcoal burners cut trees carelessly because businessmen and civil servants gave them business.
“We have destroyed our forests with the issue of charcoal and we the Goodwill Ambassadors realise the villagers are the ones cutting trees carelessly to make charcoal but we feel that they are motivated by businessmen in town and civil servants. Those who use electricity want to have charcoal on standby, to also save power in their houses. People in villages in most cases go for dry wood [for home use] but charcoal burners cut fresh trees and I feel if the businessmen and civil servants can have the right attitude, believe me, we can see a change,” Sakala explained.
He said his Sinda-based organisation had noted continued loadshedding by Zesco, which also promoted the use of charcoal, leading to deforestation.
“We also appeal to our government through Zesco to reduce or find lasting ways to completely do away with loadshedding because that forces people using electricity to buy charcoal to assist them when there is no electricity. So we can see that even Zesco needs to engage itself to assist seriously in fighting the issue of climate change,” Sakala said.
He further noted that the high poverty levels in communities was also an issue that contributed to deforestation. Sakala said villagers cut trees to construct houses, traditional storerooms for crops, and some wood perimeters.
He thanked President Edgar Lungu for his effort in promoting tree planting, saying such a step indicated that he was “a generation thinker”.
“We are so thankful for the step taken by our President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to urge Zambians to plant one thousand trees and if truly society can respond to that step by the President, surely Zambia can be turned into a green environment,” said Sakala.
Organisation member Nathan Zimba explained that globalisation, poverty, illiteracy, and bad planning were some of the major drivers of deforestation and that the best solution was tree planting and conservation.
Headman Seba Chipingo Nyoka called on the organisation to ensure the district commissioner and the council chairperson were invited to such meetings because “at community level, traditional leaders are doing all the best but that the council is not seen to be working”.
“Next time, we need the DC, the council chairperson should come, hear and tell us why the town is so dirty, what is the council doing? You talked about issues of land and air pollution…In our communities, we are sensitising the communities but we shall still need your support to ensure nearly everyone is talked to on the effects of climate change,” said Nyoka.
Local businessman Isaac Phiri said all drivers of deforestation, land and air pollution could be reduced if alternative measures were introduced.
“For example, which other means can people use to have money apart from charcoal burning? If we look in those lines, then we can move in the right direction,” said Phiri.
Goodwill Ambassadors is an organisation championing the protection of nature and a clean environment. It has planted trees in various departments and areas such as the District Commissioner’s office and the council.