The introduction of wood saving stoves has been welcomed by communities in Matabeleland South.

The initiative is the brainchild of the Forestry Commission to reduce deforestation.

With 74 percent of the population in Zimbabwe relying on firewood as the primary source of energy, deforestation has resulted in 300 000 hectares of forests being destroyed in the country annually.

In a bid to address this environmental challenge, the Forestry Commission introduced wood saving or qedu dubo stoves to various communities in Matabeleland South.

Among the beneficiaries of the innovation is Gogo Martha Nyoni of ward 2 Datata village who unpacked the benefits of the stove.

“These stoves do not only help reduce deforestation but lessen the burden on time and energy spent searching for firewood,” she said.

The Forestry Commission working with its partners has continued to raise awareness on the importance of conserving and preserving the environment.

Brick moulders, artisanal miners, farmers and mopani worm harvesters pose the biggest threats to the forests in Matabeleland South.

“We are doing a lot to try and educate communities on preserving the environment, our hope is to also take brick moulders on a look and learn tour in Mangwe district where twigs are being used to fire bricks,” said Forestry Commission Provincial Extension Manager Mr Bekezela Tshuma.

Matabeleland South marked the National Tree Planting Day and the Minister of State for the province Cde Abednico Ncube said the provincial tree planting target for the coming year is 379 050.

“I would like to urge you all to join hands with the Forestry Commission to educate our society about the disadvantages of forest degradation and bring unrepentant transgressors of the anti forest activities to book,” he said.

In a bid to achieve this goal, Glow Petroleum and Nyaradzo Funeral Services donated 800 eucalyptus seedlings, 100 exotic fruit tree seedlings and 100 fruit trees and 20 ornamental seedlings to the communities.

The tree of the year is the jackal berry, known as umdlawuzo in isiNdebele.