HARARE residents have expressed dismay over the wanton cutting of trees in the city’s suburbs and along the streets saying the actions were insensitive to the environment.
This week a number of residents reported that trees were being cut in their neighbourhoods with some saying workers from power utility ZESA Holdings were the ones cutting trees in their residential areas.
But residents said the ZESA workers were cutting even trees that were not disturbing power lines raising the ire of nature lovers given the importance of trees to the environment.
According to residents, the other tree cutters, believed to have been from the City of Harare, were telling them that they were cutting them in order for cars to pass safely.
In some instances, the tree cutters were telling residents that they were not being paid adequately and have to cut the trees to sell firewood to supplement their incomes.
Some of the Jacaranda trees along Central Avenue on the edge of the central business district were also victim to the ongoing cutting.
Residents said the City of Harare workers always cut the trees when they were about to flower but had no policy of replanting trees to replace the ones being brought down.
The residents said along Borrowdale Road (which has been renamed Liberation Legacy Way), trees were being cut down to put up ugly looking advertising billboards.
Recently Free For Harare took the Borrowdale Office Park to task after it was reported that they had cut down all their fever trees at the premises.
“The world is trying to protect every living tree right now to curb greenhouse emissions,” said Trees For Harare.
Trees for Harare was formed after concern shown from Harare residents about the amount of trees being cut in and around Harare. The volunteers now go around Harare working with the City of Harare and Forestry Commission identifying areas to plant and then hold planting days.
Some of the trees cut down this week are said to be 50 year old trees and residents wondered why public utilities were being so insensitive to the environment.
In 2019, there was an outcry among residents and nature lovers following the cutting down of more than three dozen trees in Greendale, which were reportedly cut because they were disturbing Zesa power lines.
Then residents said about 44 trees were cut down near Courtney Selous Primary School in Greendale.
A new study led by Boston University School of Public Health researchers and published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health recently found that increasing green vegetation in large, metropolitan areas could have prevented between 34,000-38,000 deaths, based on data from 2000-2019.
The nationwide study also showed that overall greenness in metro areas has increased in the past 20 years, by nearly 3 percent between 2000-2010 and 11 percent between 2010-2019.
The study builds upon well-established research on the health benefits of greenness by providing a quantitative value to the potential impact of urban greening initiatives on mortality.
“We’ve known that living in greener areas can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health, but there is a lack of data on how changes in greenness distribution can affect death rates across the country,” says study lead author Paige Brochu, a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Health.
“Our study quantifies the impact of greenness expansion in urban areas and shows how increasing green vegetation could potentially add to a person’s life expectancy. Policymakers and urban planners can use this information to support local climate action plans and ensure that those plans include greening initiatives.”
For the study, Brochu and colleagues utilised publicly available population data from the US Census, mortality data from Centers for Disease Control WONDER system and greenness data from NASA’s Landsat satellites to conduct a nationwide health impact assessment that estimated increased green vegetation impact on all-cause mortality among adults 65 and older in 35 large US metropolitan areas.
The study period focused on three distinct time periods across a 20-year span: 2000, 2010, and 2019. Using the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a widely used metric that estimates the quantity of green vegetation, the researchers calculated that 34 080-38,187 elderly deaths — or about 15 to 20 deaths per 10 000 seniors — could have been prevented between 2000-2019 with a 0.1 increase in NDVI across all 35 metropolitan areas.
They estimated that overall greenness increased by 2.86 percent between 2000-2010, and 11.11 percent from 2010-2019, with the largest regional increase observed in the South (from .40 percent in 2000 to .47 percent in 2019).
Brochu notes that greening may not be feasible in all cities, due to differences in climate, water sources, urbanisation, and landscape, but city planners can use the study findings to examine local changes in greenness over time and develop an appropriate and effective climate action plan in their cities. — Suburban Reporter/www.sciencedaily.com