Name ID 1189

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Africa News Online
Extract Date: 1999 November 29

Tanzania Embarks On 100 Million Tree-Planting Campaign

Copyright (c) 1999 Panafrican News Agency

The Tanzanian government has directed district and provincial administrators to effectively implement an ambitious national tree planting campaign launched by President Benjamin Mkapa in April.

The campaign is aimed at re-greening the country by planting 100 million Trees by June. Tanzania currently loses between 300,000 and 400,000 hectares of forest annually due to rampant tree felling.

Forest cover destruction is particularly alarming in the rural areas where shifting cultivation and livestock keeping form the key modes of life. The country's central and north-western areas are already threatened with accelerating desertification.

The minister of state in the vice president's office, Edward Lowassa, issued a directive 10 November to all district commissioners to ensure a thorough implementation of the campaign.

'Planted seedlings must be taken care of to make sure that a large percentage of them thrives. Botanists should advise the villagers on suitable species of Trees for each region,' he said.

The vice president's office is co-ordinating the campaign launched 10 April by Mkapa in Mwanza region, one of the areas affected by chronic drought.

Media tycoon Reginald Mengi, who is chairman of the National Environmental Management Council, has backed the exercise with personal financial support by rewarding successful environmental groups with cash.

Last week he gave 112,000 shillings (about 140 US dollars) to a family that planted 3,600 Trees around their home area. Some 15 million Trees have been planted in Mengi's native Kilimanjaro region through his initiative in the past five years.

Similar campaigns are going on throughout the country in urban and rural areas, including refugee camps.

The minister for community development, women affairs and children, Mary Nagu, recently urged Burundian refugees in the western region of Kigoma to stop felling Trees and instead join the government's green campaign.

Like their Tanzanian hosts, the refugees rely heavily on wood fuel for their daily energy requirements. Wood is by far the most important source of energy in Tanzania, exceeding 90 percent of the total national energy supply.

Apart from wood fuels demand, much of deforestation in the country is due to unsuitable agricultural methods and over-grazing. These activities transform natural forests into marginal lands and, as a result, land degradation and even desertification are accelerating.

Extract ID: 1456