The government and players in the timber industry have called for massive reforestation and afforestation programmes in Chimanimani, saying they are critical towards protecting people from weather induced disasters as well as the revival of the timber industry.

Allied Timbers Board Chairperson, Itai Ndudzo said the issue of illegal settlers remains a challenge, with a total of 13000 hectares out of 114000 of the company plantations being illegally occupied and that failure to address the situation is counter-productive to afforestation and reforestation efforts.

“The occupation of part of our plantations is affecting the revive and expansion of the timber industry,” Ndudzo said.

Forest Commission General Manager, Abedinigo Marufu and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) Chief Executive Officer, Aaron Chigona said afforestation programmes will help to protect the sloppy areas as well as promote eco-tourism.

“Revival of the timber industry in Chimanimani will help conserve the environment while promoting tourism,” Marufu said.

The Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality, Cde Prisca Mupfumira said the government will not support illegal settlements that affect the timber industry.

“We are a law abiding country, hence we will not tolerate invasion of plantations by illegal settlers. We are actually working on efforts to revive Allied Timbers and the entire industry,” she said.

Minister Mupfumira called for the local community to desist from wanton cutting down of trees and the starting veld fires.