Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bintony Kutsaira made the remarks Saturday after gracing a tree planting exercise at Viphya Plantation organised by Reformed Timber Millers Union (RTMU).
RTMU has 35 registered members who have organised themselves as cooperatives having a concession in the plantation.
In his remarks Kutsaira bemoaned inadequacy of staff in Forestry Department that has led to depletion of forests in the country which has a bearing on the environment and economy at large.
The Minister said the unsustainable approach by some local timber millers is forcing Government to think of allocating investors to manage the forest.
“We want the whole plantation to be taken by investors who will be planting, maintaining and harvesting the mature trees because we are failing to take care of the trees,” said Kutsaira.
He also emphasized that in the reforestation plan Government has considered the youth who will be engaged in a number of activities such as; weeding, creating fire-breaks among others.
He said: “There are also plans to sign a new concession with RTMU. These plans are at an advanced stage.”
In her remarks, Forestry Director, Stella Gama said, " the community should be proactive when it comes to tree planting because this is source of our well being."
Speaking during the function, Paul Nthambazale, RTMU president also concurred with Kutsaira saying survival rate of planted trees is not impressive due to lack of adequate staff to manage the trees at critical stages more especially containing wild fires when they break out.
“Two years ago we planted thousands of trees and we handed over to responsible authorities but look very few trees have survived. This all draws us back to the point that the Department of Forestry needs beefing up,” said Nthambazale.
Currently the annual deforestation rate in the country stands at 1.6 percent of the forest cover, Department of Forestry disclosed in 2019 following a National Forestry Inventory Research conducted under the Perform Project.
This year, 105 600 trees are expected to be planted by RTMU .