The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, has urged people of Kachikao to take responsibility by protecting the vegetation in their locations and instill the spirit of resource conservation in their children.
Speaking recently at the 22nd National Tree Planting Day held at Kachikao in Chobe District, under the theme, ‘Conserve and Plant Tree to Mitigate the Impact of Climate Change’, the Minister said that vegetation should be protected as it provides people with food, fuel wood, building material, and good scenery.
The Chobe District, he said, is Botswana’s prime tourism destination because of the natural resources in its surroundings such as forests, perennial rivers and its geographical location where four countries, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, meet.
“The district’s natural resources are unique due to their occurrence in the extreme northern part of the country with various tree species and forests that contribute significantly to the tourism industry,” stated the Minister. He emphasized that the natural woodlands form part of the beautiful landscape that tourists from all over the world come to enjoy hence the wilderness experience.
Mokaila said that for many years changes in environmental, social values and economic circumstances have been posing new challenges that adversely affected the productive capacity of the forest resources. These challenges, he pointed out, include, climate change, recurring droughts, declining Agricultural output, declining energy resources and increasing prices of alternative energy sources, discovery of an interest in the veld products of commercial values, loss of genetic diversity and, lastly, the issues of equitable sharing of resources.
Though cutting trees and clearing forests might make sense to those doing it, the Minister said people must also bear in mind that if the resources base is allowed to be degraded without due care, the consequences would be catastrophic and thus make people suffer. “This is why the government is encouraging community participation in integrated forest resource management sustainable utilization,” he added.
Mokaila said that the tree planting day was, therefore, introduced in order to increase public awareness on the importance of trees as well as to instill the spirit of conservation of forest for environmental protection of forest products.
“With this day, we also wanted to increase the provision of habitat and fodder for livestock, wildlife, and also to inspire the planting of trees around homes in order to reduce pressure on the natural woodlands for forest products,” he added.
He appealed to people to take it upon themselves to plant one tree every year to make use of the carbon-dioxide that they produce. “Planting trees does not need any educational qualifications, but just a spade and a watering can. Therefore, anyone of us can plant a tree.”