April 3, 2006

Government takes measures to protect environment

The Tanzanian government will take stringent measures to curb environmental degradation, including the eviction of pastoralists and farmers from protected lands and the prohibition of thin plastic bags, Vice-President Ali Shein announced. "Human activities - such as reckless tree felling, use of plastic bags, uncontrolled cattle grazing, invasion of reserved forest areas and mountains - are some of the causes of extensive environmental degradation," Shein noted in a national radio and television address. He ordered pastoralists who had settled in game reserve areas and valleys, including the hills and mountains in eastern and central Tanzania's Eastern Arc as well as Mt Kilimanjaro in the north, to vacate the land immediately.

According to government statistics, Tanzania has at least 16 million head of cattle. Their search for pasture leads to massive environmental degradation. Shein also urged the public to participate in a countrywide tree-planting campaign. Every district should plant at least 1.5 million trees every year, he said. He directed tobacco and tea farmers and other parties who use trees as a means of energy to join the campaign. “This order is not sparing the military, schools, educational institutions and industries," he said. "Every institution should make sure it has a seedling in place by January 2007." The vice-president also ordered industrialists to shift from manufacturing plastic shopping bags to paper bags. "The manufacturing, importing, buying and use of plastic bags of 30 and 65 microns-thicknesses is now prohibited," he said.

Moreover, he said, small-scale miners who had invaded various areas in pursuit of gems and other precious stones were also guilty of environmental degradation. "They should leave the areas within three months," he said. (Rts)

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