President Edgar Lungu says uncontrolled harvesting of vulnerable tree species threatens economic development and national security.

Speaking when he launched a tree planting exercise dubbed ‘Zambia Plant a Million Trees Initiative’ in Chinsali, Monday, President Lungu implored Zambians to take it upon themselves to plant trees for the sake of sustenance.

“Zambia is one of the most forested countries in Africa. However, uncontrolled harvesting of our vulnerable tree species is one of the pressing environmental challenges and this threatens economic development and security of our country,” President Lungu said.

“It is gratifying to note that trees provide many goods and services such as construction materials, food and natural medicines, food and energy, wildlife habitat, climate regulation, soil enrichment and protection of water catchment and other resources. I therefore implore you ton endeavor to engage in practical models to ensure sustained provisions of these resources and these trees can be planted in the backyard, orchard and plantations. There are many vulnerable trees and other plant species which we can plant and these, among many others include pine and eucalyptus, moringa, bamboo…tree planting, especially in learning institutions has been mainly done using the orchard model and this model is easy to manage and has proved to be an effective learning aid. This model has many benefits such as provision of food, income generation and in some cases research purposes.”

He reiterated that the PF was committed to ensuring sustained use of natural resources.

“Provision of food, income generation and indeed research purposes are some of the tangible benefits that you get from the orchard model. There is there for need for a mindset change among learners on the importance of planting trees. It is true that when our learners appreciate the importance of planting trees, this will in turn translate into positive attitudes into families, communities and a nation as a whole. As we all endeavor to plant a million trees, the Patriotic Front government remains committed to ensuring the protection of the environment. Those of you who care to read will find that in our PF manifesto, we have guaranteed sustainable use of trees,” said President Lungu.

“In pursuant of our political party manifesto, I wish to direct the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to employ an integrated and participatory approach for us to achieve positive results in environmental protection. Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, you are doing the right thing by involving your colleague in charge of Higher Education but please extend it to the Ministry of General Education and the Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs and all of us.”

Among ministers who were present at the event were Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo, who translated for President Lungu and his Lands and Higher Education counterparts Jean Kapata and Professor Nkandu Luo respectively.