Zimbabwe has to date lost 330 000 hectares of commercial timber due to veld fires and illegal settlers who have invaded timber plantations.

In an interview recently in Mutasa, the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri says the country continues to lose vast tracts of commercial timber plantations due to influx of illegal settlers.

Veld fire menace has also contributed in worsening the situation.

The 330 000 hectares of commercial timber plantations destroyed amounts to a 15 year deficit, a development that is worrisome, says Cde Kashiri.

Acting general manager for Forestry Commission Mr Abedinigo Marufu says the country has managed to meet its 15 million trees planting target for 2016-2017 season.

Government has since 1980 been promoting tree planting exercise but perennial veld fires and illegal settlers have negatively affected the timber plantations.

The problem of illegal settlers has not been resolved for years and taka forests have been completely destroyed by illegal gold miners as they uproot mature timber in search of yellow metal.