Published: Wednesday 15 October 1997

-- The country is struggling to prevent large-scale deforestation by people who mainly rely on charcoal and firewood for fuel. According to William Harrington, environment minister, there is an immediate need to protect the country's forests as the tree felling has reached alarming proportions.

Figures show that nearly 300,000 ha of forests are felled every year in Zambia. Wood used for fuel accounts for 68 per cent of energy consumed in the country. The government has embarked on an electrification programme for rural and urban centres because it is the only option available to curtail the destruction of forests.

Forests cover about 60 per cent of the country's land mass of about 752,000 sq km. Milton Chilukusha, a senior forest conservator in Lusaka, says that deforestation is a major cause of concern for Zambia as majority of people in the country depend on fuel wood. The reasons for deforestation identified by the government include high demand for fuel wood, opening up of areas for agricultural production and settlement, uncontrolled bushfires and illegal timber trade.

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