Monday, 12 November 2018

Conservationist Replants Mukula Trees in Muchinga Province

Mr Simwanza inspecting his nursery
By Paul Shalala in Mafinga

The Mukula tree is an indigenous tree in many parts of the country.

The tree, whose scientific name is Pterocarpus Chrysothrix, grows in people’s backyards and in most cases, villagers do not realize its potential.

It is a tree which has been growing in Zambia for thousands of years.

But its importance has only been discovered now after the influx of the Chinese.

This has led to its indiscriminate cutting and the increase in illegal exports.

The fear now is that the tree maybe wiped out.

And now, a conservationist in Mafinga District of Muchinga Province has started a plantation of 20 thousand Mukula nursery for future use.
 
Mr Steven Simwanza, who is a manager at a lodge in Mafinga, started a nursery for Mukula trees last year.

“We started this nursery last year and so far, we have sent 17,000 trees to Lusaka and here we have more than 2,500 trees. We want to conserve this tree and preserve it for the future,” said Mr Simwanza.

A check at the nursery found that a number of trees had dried up while a large number of them are growing well.

“It takes 50 to 60 years for a Mukula tree to grow and be marketable but even at this tender age, they can be sold.”
The author posing with a Mukula tree

And Government has authorized Mr Simwanza to expand his nursery to ensure that more indigenous trees are replanted.

“We are promoting the replanting of indigenous trees. We do not want them to be extinct that is why we authorized this nursery and we are encouraging more people to start replanting these trees,” said Mafinga District Forestry officer Kennedy Banda.

In the past few months, the Zambian government has deployed soldiers from the Zambia Army in strategic places to stop the illegal sale of Mukula trees.

Soldiers mount check points 24 hours a day on major high ways to stop the transportation of Mukula, a tree which fetches millions of dollars on the international market.

According to industry experts, all parts of the Mukula tree are lucrative.

Asians use its back, the stem and leaves for various use such as furniture and medicine.

In Zambia, trading in Mukula is illegal but those who have been caught transporting it have had the trees confiscated and their motor vehicles forfeited to the state.

The Zambia Forest and Forestry Industry Corporation (ZAFFICO) has been selling confiscated Mukula trees in the far east on behalf of the Zambian government.

Last week, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata disclosed in Parliament that ZAFFICO had so far raised $4.3 million from the sale of illegally harvested Mukula logs in China.

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