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By IREEN MULENGA
The Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme has called on people across the country to engage in community management, protection and increased sustainable productivity of the forest resources.
Mr Chiteme made the call on the ongoing tour of the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project (ZIFLP) Community-based empowerment activities being implemented in Eastern Province.
He was speaking during the handed over of the forest user rights to Malambala and Banki community Forest Management Groups that are beneficiaries of ZIFLP in Chief Madzimawe in Kasenengwa District.
“The Patriotic Front Government of President Edgar Lungu has been concerned with the unsustainable utilization of our natural resources in Eastern Province that has contributed to climate change, “he said.
Mr Chiteme said that to address the challenge, they have been implementing the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project (ZIFLP) under the Ministry of National Development Planning.
He said his Ministry intended to improve landscape management and increase environmental and economic benefits for targeted rural communities in all districts of Eastern Province since 2018.
Mr Chiteme said through the ZIFLP, the Government was supporting local livelihoods as part of the national strategy to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in the country.
He said the Government was involving local communities and traditional leaders through the policy of community forestry, which ZIFLP was implementing.
Mr Chiteme said Communities have rights to harvest and trade in forest products, including collection of medicinal herbs, harvesting of honey, grass and grazing of animals
And also collection of forest produces for community-based industries, operating eco-tourism and recreational activities by establishing plantations, harvesting of timber or fuel wood.
He commended Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni people for his leadership in forest management and protection as well as commitment to sustainable development.
Mr Chiteme warned that illegal cutting of tress, setting fires and cultivation and planting of crops must not take place within the declared local and national forests as well as national parks.
He said 214,955 persons are projected to benefit from ZIFLP’s investments and t 30 percent of the beneficiaries being female.
This is contained in a statement issued by Ministry Of National Development Planning Spokesperson Chibaula Silwamba.