Tanzanian leader kicks off national tree planting day

Some 500,000 tree seedlings were planted throughout the country Tuesday as Tanzanians took part in an annual practice during which every citizen is required to help in reafforestation efforts.

In Dar es Salaam, President Benjamin Mkapa and his wife, Anna, planted mango, orange and teak seedlings at State House grounds as various government officials led the efforts in different parts of the country.

The launch of the tree planting day in 1999 was expected to halt forest loss and stem the encroachment of desert exacerbated by unsustainable tree felling for fuel-wood and timber.

The target was to plant 100 million tree seedlings nation-wide by the end of 2000.

Although the mark was realised dramatically, environmentalists said the efforts have to be sustained to make up for illegal exploitation that goes on undetected or under systematic corruption throughout the country.

Unsustainable tree exploitation is reported to have already offset long-term consequences in at least 10 regions with locals becoming victims of degradation characterised by frequent droughts.

Although it is obvious that forestry resources are dwindling rapidly, practices that sustain yields are not heeded and deforestation is bound to grow due to an increasing population heavily dependent on agriculture and overstocking of domestic livestock and wildlife.

One of the most delicate issues now is how conservation ideals can accommodate and supply the needs of rural people, and experts caution that Tanzanians will need to plant over 25,000 hectares of trees annually to meet tree losses of about 130,000 hectares every year.


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