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International Day of Forests – Engaging Youth as Custodians of the Environment 

Muzarabani – Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry led celebrations of the 2023 International Day of Forests at Muzarabani High School. The Deputy Director of Provincial Affairs, Mr Chiringa commended partners under the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) project who exhibited at the event.

“Today Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in celebrating and spreading awareness of forests. We will maintain efforts towards reforestation and creating public awareness events such as this one.” stated the Deputy Director.

Held under the theme “Forests and Health”, the commemorations included an exhibition of work by various agencies funded under the GEF 6 Zambezi Valley Biodiversity Project, managed by UNDP. “Healthy forests bring healthy people” said Dr. Chirara.

“The GEF 6 Projects have made commendable efforts towards saving the forests around Muzarabani and Mbire. It is our hope to continue establishing gazetted forests in the province, as they hold a critical role in our biodiversity, food security and humanity.” said UNDP Project Manager, Dr. Chirara.

 DanChurchAid, the lead implementing partner for the UNDP GEF6 funded Chengetai Project, reiterated its commitment to planting 250.000 trees over the next three years, to increase carbon sequestration and to promote and invest in climate mitigation. 

The Chengetai consortium is made up of four partners including: Zambezi Valley Conservation Network (ZVCN), My Trees Trust, the Farmers Association of Community Self-Help Investment Groups (FACHIG), and DanChurchAid (DCA).

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Together the partners are delivering a combination of humanitarian and landscape-based approaches to aid in fostering co-existence between communities, wildlife, and eco-systems, whilst promoting the utilisation of nature-benefitting practices.

The Chengetai project is targeting eight (8) wards along with five (5) primary and secondary schools, some of which were represented by students who shared poetry inspired by the day’s theme.

“Mususu! Mususu! Mususu! Why are you people doing this to me? You cut me down, but you want oxygen from me, and you will not replace me! You want to rest under me when you are tired, but why don’t you want to see me in this world?” – Recited 11-year-old Shaline Timire, from Muzarabani School.

Consultations with Ward Development Committees (WADCOs) identified schools in the area where nurseries have been established to propagate indigenous trees. Each nursery is expected to produce at least 20,000 trees.

The project reinforces the ZVCN – Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Programme, which aims to blend and strengthen existing school curricula related to environmental education and biodiversity protection practices. By establishing school clubs which covers activities such as tree planting, nature walks, upcycling, ranger talks and discussions on sustainable agriculture, ecosystem management and conservation careers. Chengetai is actively engaging Zimbabwe’s youth, nurturing present and future custodians of the environment.

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Chengetai is working closely with government agencies such as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Forestry Commission, AGRITEX, community leadership through Rural District Councils, and other GEF funded partners such as Zimbabwe Apiculture Trust (ZAT). By so doing, the project is sharing environmental knowledge and safe-guarding eco-systems, which is at the project’s core.

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