Wood poachers target eucalyptus plantationsWood poachers target eucalyptus plantations

The Sustainable Afforestation Association (SAA) says it has intensified efforts to combat wood poachers who are targeting its eucalyptus, pictured, plantations across the country.

The non-profit organisation, which was founded in 2013, and subsequently funded by concerned tobacco merchants who were concerned by massive deforestation, said all those found on the wrong side of the law are being prosecuted through the criminal courts.

This was after Tawanda Singano, a Macheke villager, was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for “theft”.
He was arrested last month for stealing 9x2,4 m gum poles  and three cubic metres from the SAA woodlots.

“We are working tirelessly with the Zimbabwe Republic Police in all areas where our plantations are situated to combat this poaching menace,” SAA said in a statement.

Recognising the urgent need for supplementary fuel wood resources, the Association decided to address the first and most urgent of the objectives by entering into joint venture partnerships with farmers within tobacco-growing districts to establish commercial-scale eucalyptus plantations.

Farmer partners provide the land required for each joint venture, SAA provides the capital and management skills and the timber is shared at the end of each rotation. Ownership of the plantation reverts to the farmer after three rotations.

Eucalypts have been selected for initial establishment because they are fast-growing, their management requirements are well understood, they provide good-quality firewood and seed is readily available.

Since January 2013, SAA has established almost 11 000 hectares of fuel wood plantations.