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Govt must extend attention to other recently degazetted forests – Musole

THE Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) has urged the government to extend its attention to other protected forests that were recently degazetted and had their land use changed without following the due process of the law.

Executive director Patrick Musole has commended land and local government ministers Elijah Muchima and Gary Nkombo respectively on their resolve to “walk the talk” on restoring sanity in land administration in Zambia.

“Barely a week since the two were sworn in as Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and Minister of Local Government, respectively, the ministers visited Forest 27 on the 15th September 2021 to see for themselves the damage that has been done to the degazetted forest,” he noted. “This is highly commendable, and we urge the ministers to follow up this gesture with practical measures that will result in the regazetting and restoration of the forest.”

Masole said though human activities had already caused a lot of destruction to the flora and fauna in Forest 27, ZLA believes that if the activities were discontinued the natural resources would regenerate in a few years’ time.

“We urge the government to extend their attention to other protected forests that were recently degazetted and had their land use changed without following the due process of the law. Additionally, we urge the Minister of Mines and Minerals Development to come on board and consider revoking exploration and mining licences that have been issued for areas that are environmentally sensitive, such as Lower Zambezi National Park,” he said. “We want to encourage the ministers to stay focused on doing the right thing, despite the opposition they are likely to face from people even within their ministries. We are aware that some officials from their ministries could be perpetrators or beneficiaries of the illegal activities that have been happening in land governance, and so may not be in support of the corrective measures the ministers are working to implement.”

Musole said ZLA and other Civil Society Organisations pledge to support the government in ensuring the rule of law prevails, and that Zambians, especially the poor and marginalised, had secured access and ownership of land for sustainable livelihoods.

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