Indigenous Trees a Treasure for Africa

Mother Africa must plant more indigenous trees for the benefit of the continent and instead of importing exotic trees. Indigenous trees are a treasure since they are part of life and beautify the continent’s environment.
Planting more local or indigenous trees than foreign trees is crucial to the expansion of the continent since Africans know their benefits and even the side effects, unlike alien species.
Zimbabwe police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri says indigenous trees are a source of living for both animals and human beings. Therefore, Africans must not only plant more indigenous trees but also protect the existing ones.
“It is important for Africans to plant more trees, especially indigenous ones, as they are a source of living for both animals and human beings,” he says.
Chihuri goes on to say: “Indigenous trees should be properly maintained, as they are a foundation of life to humans and animals. The life of a person can never be complete without trees.”
Importantly, indigenous trees also helped Africans during the continent’s liberation struggles.
“Africans must protect indigenous trees since these trees played a very important role during Africa’s liberation struggles, as they provided freedom fighters with the necessary cover,” said Commissioner Chihuri.
For this and other reasons, Africa should plant more indigenous trees, replace those that have been cut or have died and safeguard the existing forests. Planting more indigenous trees beautifies the continent, brings soil together and the tree act as wind breaks.
Chihuri says, “Geographically, planting and maintenance of indigenous trees ensures a favourable ecosystem that supports and sustains life on earth; while scientifically trees represent a vast reservoir of genetic resources and biodiversity and they attract the much sought-after rains.”
Consequently, political leaders, development players and environmentalist across the continent should encourage Africans to plant and maintain indigenous trees for the good of the continent.
Africans should be educated to care for their indigenous forests.
Philip Mataranyika, one of the founding trustees of Friends of The Environment (FOTE), believes that a citizenry well informed about the importance of planting indigenous trees is an empowered citizenry. They would act for life by restoring the depleted indigenous forests and not act for death by aggravating the situation, as is currently the case in most African countries.
The continent should take a leaf from the People’s Republic of China, where the government has set a requirement that every able-bodied citizen between the ages of 11 and 60 is responsible for planting three to five trees per year or complete an equal amount of work in other areas of forestry. Since 1982, the Chinese government claims that at least one billion trees have been planted through the programme.
Planting indigenous trees requires a multisectoral approach if the content is to fully benefit. This means that citizens, governments and corporations in the continent should play crucial roles. Truly, if citizens and corporations have the ability to destroy the region’s intact indigenous forests, they also have the power to save them.
Ultimately, governments and corporations in Africa should make an impact by providing seedlings and introducing zero-deforestation policies. More so, supporting conservation organisations is another effective way of promoting and protecting indigenous trees. The support can be through donations of time, money or actions to organisations that run programmes concentrating on the preservation of indigenous forests. Since water is a challenge in most African countries, political leaders must come up with strategies that ensure that the project of planting indigenous trees will not be stopped due to water shortages.
The effects of losing indigenous trees are devastating to the African continent. Therefore, African countries should take serious steps to plant and protect indigenous trees if the continent is to keep its pride and protect its citizens from different problems caused by many exotic products.

June 2013
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