Zambia is losing 800 hectares of forest every year due to excessive exploitation, an official with the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources has said.
Davy Siame, chief natural resource management officer, was cited by Monday's newspaper The Post as saying high poverty levels and over exploitation of natural resources had contributed to the loss of forest as well as wildlife.
"It is estimated that we are losing about 800 hectares of forest every year. The loss of species and habitats is quite pronounced simply because of these poverty issues where our communities depend on forests and wild animals," Siame said.
Though the country has made steady progress in economy in recent years, poverty level has remained as high as 68 percent among its 11 million population, Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande said recently.
A large number of people in rural areas make a living by selling charcoal which is made of wood cut from local forest.
In the meantime, a large quantity of hard wood was processed into woodcarvings which are widely seen in markets in big cities like Lusaka and Livingstone.
Siame said as a result of over-exploitation, Mukwa which is a high-value hard wood was facing extinction.
"The species that we have lost for instance are forests in Western Province where those species take 150 years to generate. Mukwa, which we exploit for timber production and also export to South Africa is slowly going into extinction," he said.
"We have to sensitize them to put in place strategies so that they can be able to have sustainable use of these resources in order for them not to be extinct," Siame said.