francis nhema 01-12-10 ed.jpgGovernment has warned resettled farmers in the eastern highlands, who have converted timber plantations into horticultural projects, to stop and restore the land to its original purpose.

The warning was made by Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister, Cde Francis Nhema who said government is concerned by the conversion of plantations into other purposes.

In an interview with ZBC News, Cde Nhema said the country might face timber shortages as some farmers in the eastern highlands are trying to reap short term benefits by planting horticultural crops on plantations.

“Those who want to engage in timber plantation must know that forestry life cycle is up to 25 years and they should desist from short term gains that destroy the land and expose it to soil erosion,” said Cde Nhema.

Forestry Commission Operations Manager, Mr Steven Zingwena said in order to reverse the loss of forests, all resettled forests plantation owners with small plots should come together so that the plantations are managed and harvested.

Environmentalists have called on the country to put in place strict legislation to prevent farmers from changing land purposes and promote the planting of new plantations and the maintenance of the existing ones.

In its endeavor to come up with fast growing timber trees, the Forestry Commission Research Department is working on fast growing trees that can be harvested within 10 -15 years instead of the current 25 years.