DEFORESTATION in Zambia is a major product of charcoal production, which is also to blame for desertification currently robbing livestock of vast grazing land.
Admittedly charcoal burners are not the only malefactors of deforestation because along with them are activities to do with agricultural expansion, livestock ranching, logging, infrastructure development as well as pressure from growing populations.
It has been reported that Zambia is one of the most central countries at global level for deforestation and therefore the need to conserve forests cannot be overstated.
Zambians need to know that the loss of trees and other vegetation does cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, poor agriculture, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for themselves.
Some of these side effects have already been in Zambia and continue to manifest.
But perhaps most notably, the handicaps to deforestation are increased carbon dioxide emissions and destruction of forest habitat as well as the loss of biological diversity of both flora and fauna.
Deforestation is the undying ruin of forests in order to make the land available for other uses by human beings.
Charcoal production in Zambia has already seen tonnes and tonnes of this energy being produced daily by people who really don’t care or have no knowledge of the consequences of their action.
Deforestation can also significantly reduce rainfall in tropical areas and beyond and Zambia is already feeling some of these effects as some parts of the country have continued to receive little or no rains at all.
What therefore this means is that Zambia should judiciously start or up its game to preserve her forests for the same reasons mentioned above.
Some schools of thought have already suggested the need to turn to the use of briquettes.
These are blocks made by sawdust obtained by the wood production scraps which can immensely help reduce deforestation caused by the production of charcoal in Zambia and indeed in other developing countries.
So we roundly condemn those Isoka villagers who took the law in their own hands to stone forestry officers who were on duty to help control indiscriminate cutting of trees for charcoal.
The Sun reported that a fuming mob of villagers in Isoka on Wednesday stoned forestry officers who pounced on illegal charcoal burners on the Great North Road.
Muchinga Province Police Commissioner Joel Njase who confirmed the scuffle said the incident happened at Kasamba Mulopa village in Chief Kafwimbi’s area.
Mr Njase said in the disturbance, a forestry general worker Chrispin Sikaonga of Chuwi village sustained a cut on the head after the villagers became more than aggressive.
“Forest department requested for one officer to accompany them along Isoka-Nakonde road to confiscate illegal charcoal along the road and when they reached at Kasamba Mulopa,they found the illegal bags of charcoal and started the seizing exercise,” Mr Njase said.
Mr Njase said it was at that point some villagers mobilized themselves and started throwing stones at the forestry officers who ran away for their safety.
He said police sent more officers to the scene but found the situation had normalized and the villagers had dispersed.
However what happened in that rural village should not be allowed to show its horrible head ever again because charcoal burning in Zambia is causing more harm that its so-called intended purpose.
With the current electricity crisis in Zambia it is more than apparent that charcoal production will escalate with extremely shattering consequences on the climate including rainfall patterns which will aggravate our already fraught hydro power generation.
We think time to earnestly control charcoal burning to conserve our forests is now because tomorrow may be too late.