Today we launch a mini-blog series, focusing on a topic close to the hearts of everyone in the modern world, and especially to us: the environment.
Working, as we do, with precious timbers, we are often asked about the ecological impact of harvesting indigenous trees. We’ve been in the business for many years, and as a result, have some understanding of the subject, so here are a few of our ideas. Having said that, we don’t claim to be experts but, rather, concerned and responsible users.
Although in the past we would harvest trees directly from forests and then process the felled logs into planks, we no longer do. Instead we purchase sawn planks directly from various concessionaires and suppliers.
The first principle of natural resource use is that of “sustainable harvesting”. That is to take no more, and probably less than, the ability of the forest to regenerate itself.
The second principle, in our order of things, centres on the fact that the biggest danger to a forest is destroying it and using the land for agriculture . Fortunately our Mukwa, Teak and Mchibi forests grow in Kalahari sands in the North West of Zimbabwe, where the low rainfall and sandy soils do not readily lend themselves to the growing of many crops. If these conditions did, the forests would have been destroyed and crops grown there long ago. Nevertheless , we must not be complacent !
There was a time when areas in Mashonaland, with higher rainfall and more nutritious soil, had huge thriving forests. They have been largely chopped down and the land directed to other agricultural pursuits.
Recently we were on a trip through Chiredzi where we saw depots with substantial bales of cotton ready for transport…a good cash crop for small holders. Fortunately for the Matabeleland forest area, our altitude and other climatic conditions do not lend themselves to cotton growing, otherwise there would be many hectares of forest replaced by cotton, or other crops. This is what has happened to vast tracts of other land in Zimbabwe which is suitable for cropping.
So the message is , use the forest sustainably . Ensure that it contributes economically to avoid the land being put to agricultural use . `