2016-03-01 10:00:00

Mongu Diocese plants trees at prison grounds

In response to Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato sì, Zambia’s Mongu Diocese working together with state and local organisations has embarked on a tree planting exercise.

A committee to spearhead the tree planting exercise was formed in Mongu recently. The committee comprises the state’s Zambia Forestry Department, CELIM, Diocese of Mongu, Zambia Association of Sisterhoods (ZAS, Mongu Diocese branch) and the Prison Department of Mongu. In its initial exercise, the committee planted 150 Moringa (Moringa oleifera) and umbrella trees (Schefflera actinophylla) right on the grounds of the Mongu prison.

Zambia is among 10 countries with the highest deforestation in the world. In September, last year, the Catholic Bishop of Mongu Diocese, Evans Chinyemba, addressed a letter to all the faithful in the diocese calling their attention the massive logging and tree cutting that was taking place in his area. He appealed to the Barotse traditional leadership, the government and the communities to work together to stop the damage being done to forests.

Most of the trees under threat in Mongu Diocese are in Zambia’s Western province. In particular, the indigenous Mukwa tree (Pterocarpus angolensis), a deciduous tree that can grow up to 18 metres when conditions are favourable, is considered to be under the most pressure. The Mukwa tree is protected by law in Zambia but this does not stop people from cutting it down.

The new committee in Mongu Diocese, which brings together the Church with state actors and civil society, will be welcome news to the local people. A religious sister of the diocese, Sr. Cecilia Zavala who was one of the organisers, thanked the Zambia Prisons authority, in Mongu, for allowing them to plant the trees.

“The activity of planting trees at the prison area was exciting and joyful, especially when people from the neighbourhood and those who were walking along the road got interested and joined us in the planting exercise. Children, youth and families joined the committee and experienced the joy and hope which comes from caring for our Mother Earth,” Sr. Zavala said.

(Mongu Diocese, Drumbeat, Zambia)

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