Zimbabwe will face timber shortage within the next 10 years due to over-harvesting and uncontrolled veld fire, experts on timber industry have said.
Although the country still has substantial tracts of land with commercial trees, the current harvesting levels and uncontrolled veld fire could see it turning to other countries for its timber requirements, an expert with the Forestry Commission said on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe could become a net importer of timber within the next 10 years because there was unwarranted cutting down of commercial trees with no replantation, the expert said.
Also, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe's hub of commercial forest, last year lost timer worth 20 trillion Zimbabwe dollars to veld fire. (One U.S. dollar equals about 101,000 Zimbabwe dollars.)
According to statistics compiled by the Timber Products' Federation, timber covering close to 10,000 hectare, constituting 12 percent of the country's pine plantation, went up in smoke just inside four months between July and November last year.
The area affected was equivalent to the volume normally harvested over a three-year period.
Richard Kanyekanye, the federation chairman, said the industry was working on a strategy to adopt sustainable forests management before the situation got out of hand.
At the last count in 2004, Zimbabwe's commercial trees declined from 12 million in 1998 to 6.5 million. The annual growth rate also took a dip to 0.9 percent in 2004 from 3 percent in 2003.
The timber industry contributes 3.9 percent to the country's gross domestic product.