The CYNESA Zambia team is getting ready to join in a nation-wide tree planting exercise that was launched by the Catholic Bishops of Zambia, on the 22nd of January, at the Cardinal Adam Memorial Hospital. Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) Assistant National Pastoral Coordinator Father Boniface Sakala, and Lusaka District Commissioner Captain Davises Mulenga took part in the launch. According to Fr. Sakala, the Bishops said that it is not the duty of the Forestry department alone to make every effort to avert the most serious effects of environmental degradation caused by human carelessness.
A 2015 study by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), found that Zambia’s forest ecosystems contribute $1.3 billion, roughly 6.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), to the national economy. A local daily, the Lusaka Times, reports that Zambia faces challenges in reducing deforestation. Pressure is exerted on forests by a combination of factors, such as extensive practices of shifting cultivation and slash and burn, which was increasing demand for wood based energy.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO, 2011) estimates average annual rates of deforestation to be 167,000 ha per annum or 0.33% of total forest cover between 2000 and 2010.
In their Pastoral Statement on the State of the Nation, the Zambian Bishops dedicated 4 paragraphs to the theme, ‘A Duty of All to Our Common Home’. “The climate change calls us to re-examine the way we take care of our common home, the earth. Pope Francis cautions us that if we do not take personal as well as corporate responsibility for the earth which is our home, we will destroy the home for our future generation.”
They challenged the government to put in place “strong monitoring measures to monitor the exploitation of natural resources in Zambia by investors both foreign and local”, and expressed concerns “that some multinational companies are indiscriminately using our natural resources to satisfy the markets leaving behind great human and environmental liabilities such as the depletion of natural resources, pollution and deforestation.”
In the encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis notes that “it is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever.”
The tree planting activity, to be carried out in all the dioceses in Zambia, represents as Pope Francis says, efforts which “benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread.”
CYNESA Zambia looks forward to actively responding to the call from their Bishops, in making their contribution to care for our common home.
Founding Executive Director, CYNESA.