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Zimbabwe’s cities becoming stump lined, as systematic tree cutting takes over

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Above: On Ridgeway South as it crosses Enterprise Road alongside Nazareth House rows of trees have been cut down. The stumps (in this case ranging from ankle to knee height) and all the leafy off cuts have been left on site. In addition, in the last few days trees are being felled alongside Nazareth House on Enterprise Road.

One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.
- proverb

The Forest Act, Chap 19.05, Section 78, prohibits the damage or cutting of any tree in Zimbabwe without a permit from the Forestry Commission. Even in a ‘private forest’ (any private land). There are 120 forestry officers nationwide, and an application must be made to one of them two weeks in advance. The officer will inspect, and recommend removal or not. Including on private land.

The forestry officer may recommend the removal of stumps, and brush, but there is no legal obligation. That is to say, the law does not force any removal.

There are three particular and serious concerns that we as active and concerned citizens must consider:

1. Trees that are felled by the City of Harare or by the individual/company that requested the trees to be felled, must be replanted.

2. Why are areas that are being left hacked up by City of Harare tree fellers not being rehabilitated by the City, or by the individual/company that commissioned the destruction?

3. Why do we not see local environmental and residents associations advocating more vocally about stopping the systematic looting of trees in our cities and towns?

Like Ashton said in his article about litter, there are many ways in which a city is kept viable both as a tourist destination, as well as a place that offers beauty and good quality of life for its residents. Soon our city streets will be stump lined instead of tree lined – unless we all commit to seriously questioning the removal of any trees, as well as taking out stumps and replanting trees.

If you are worried about local tree felling, get involved!

1) The law is clear. No one may cut a tree down without Forestry Commission permission.
2) Talk to the Forestry Commission, get to know your neighbours, ask if they have a permit. There is a clear procedure to follow to get one. If they have not done this, it is illegal.
3) Any land within Harare City limits that is not private belongs to you and is managed for you by the City of Harare. They are cutting Your trees, and you have every right to know why. And by all means, challenge it. You and you community need that tree living more than some individual needs it dead.

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