Zimbabwe: Woman vows to re-grow lost native forests.
Her name is Shamiso Mupara – 33 – and she vows that when she reaches 40 years of age she would have planted 40 000 indigenous trees to enrich Zimbabwe´s vanquished indigenous forests.
“I am determined to replant Zimbabwe´s precious forests to offset thousands, if not millions of trees felled down by axes, timber smugglers and reckless fires,” says Shamiso.
At 33 she holds a Masters in Environmental science from the University of Botswana, 2000 km away from her home country. While highly educated young women of her caliber dodge economically troubled Zimbabwe and elope into exile in Australia, Europe or Dubai she chose to return stop forest destruction.
“It´s a weird dream because the country´s economy is very bad. And frankly speaking, forests are the last thing on people´s minds, but I am here to make sure for every teak tree I see unjustly cut down in my district I replace by planting three!”
Shamiso could have chosen a cushy job with salaries and perks as Zimbabwe´s with Zimbabwe´s environment management agency or be an academic in an elite university but she has retired to one of the poorest districts in Zimbabwe. Its name is Marange. Located in the east of the country, it is one of Zimbabwe´s driest patches of land.
“From 2013 I have planted 10 000 natives bush trees in this district, with no donor funding or corporate help,” she declares. “I have formed a non-profit agency called Environment Buddies and we are driven to replant Zimbabwe´s forests out of intense anger that if we stop, the country may well…become a desert.”
Culling down of native bush trees in Zimbabwe has reached menacing levels. Widening electricity shortages and erratic jobs in cities is motivating youths to chop trees and sell as cooking firewood. Cash-spinning tobacco farmers too are accused of mowing down forests to expand plots to grow Virginia-leaf tobacco specie which is the country´s main foreign currency earner. Such is the rapid pace of deforestation that the UNDP sounded alarm that the country faces a risk of desertification in a few decades.
“This fear of desertification is exactly why I plant trees to oppose those who disregard forests,” says Shamiso.
Persistent rural hunger has led Shamiso to accelerate her forest planting efforts. “Where I come from in eastern Zimbabwe heat wipes off the maize crop and sickens cattle yearly. Fresh native forests if grown again are key to providing alternative sources of rural food and timber for sale to obtain income against malnutrition.”
Rains have been excellent this year and according to Zimbabwe´s vice-president Mr. Emerson Munangagwa, for the first time in two years the country has produced surplus maize to beat off hunger and have leftover to export.
“The same maize-boosting rains are also good for the indigenous forests I am re-planting,” says Shamiso.
She sums up and says – “our forest growing efforts have boosted secondary rural industries like dried worm foods, beekeepers and home utensils timber artisans. One tree enriches two human beings. I won’t stop in this mission.”
(Picture caption: Shamiso nurtures seeds for Acacia species trees)
(Picture credit: WTR editors)
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