The new regulations are contained in a Statutory Instrument (116) published in the Government Gazette last week by Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister, Francis Nhema.
“No person who is a flue or flame cured tobacco farmer shall use or transport firewood for flue or flame curing tobacco except under the terms of a flue or flame curing firewood licence obtained in the district where he or she grows that tobacco.
“No person shall, whether or not he or she is a licensed firewood trader or licensed timber trader transport any single consignment of firewood or timber exceeding 0,4 cubic metres within Zimbabwe by any means or export any single consignment of firewood or timber exceeding 0,5 cubic metres or any series of two or more consignments that may exceed 0,5 cubic metres over a period of 30 consecutive days by any means except under the terms of a forest produce movement or export permit issued by a District Forest Officer,” Minister Nhema said.
Apart from tobacco the minister also prohibited any persons from selling or trading in firewood and timber except in terms of a firewood traders’ licence obtained in any district they propose to operate.
Minister Nhema said traders would only be exempted from the requirement if they obtain their firewood or timber exclusively from a plantation in which case they will be required to obtain a traders licence from the district where the plantation is located.
“Any person who contravenes subsection (I) (regulations) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level three or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one month or both such fine and such imprisonment.
“In addition any firewood or timber being sold, traded or transported or suspected of being sold, traded or transported in contravention of this section shall be liable to seizure,” he said. The new regulations also allow police or forest officers to seize vehicles used to move timber or firewood without licences.
The minister said any person selling or trading in firewood or farmers intending to obtain a flue or flame curing firewood licence must apply for a licence noT later than August 2 this year. The applications should be done on a Form FC2 or Form FC3 to the District Forest Extension Officer or licensing officer of the local authority within whose jurisdiction the person wishes to sell or trade in timber or where the tobacco is grown.
A non refundable application fee will also be required. The applications will be approved by a Provincial Forest Extension Officer within 30 days.
The licences will be valid for a year. Electricity shortages have resulted in an increased use of firewood while farmers have resorted to its use for curing tobacco. Coal shortages have also increased the use of firewood by tobacco farmers.
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