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The timber sector is under threat from the influx of illegal settlers on plantations and perennial veld fires which destroyed 2 000 hectares in September alone.
The timber sector has over the years continued to witness a subdued performance due to numerous challenges, chief among them the influx of illegal settlers on timber plantations and the perennial veld fires.
The chief executive officer of the Timber Producers Federation (TPF) Mr Darlington Duwa says currently the sector is sitting on over 83 000 hectares of timber but with the rate at which illegal settlers are invading timber plantations, the future is bleak.
Mr Duwa revealed 2 000 hectares of timber were destroyed in September alone signalling an urgent need for a collective approach to address the problems and avert a potential need to import timber.
“The state of the timber sector is worrisome. The sector lost 2 000 hectares of standing trees, and last year in December over 10 000 hectares were burnt by fires and the loss of growing timber is a major concern. We feel that for this to be addressed and all Zimbabweans needs to work together,” said Mr Duwa.
Mr Duwa added lack of a funding mechanism has also derailed plans to restore the viability of the timber sector as huge hectares have gone for years without any meaningful reforestation programme.
“We need huge financial investment in order to restore the viability of the timber sector,” he added.
Timber production has declined from a peak of 120 000 hectares to below 80 000 poising a reality the country will soon need to import timber.
Statistics show the sector contributes about four percent to the gross domestic product making timber production a key economic enabler.