ARUSHA, Tanzania, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Tanzania on Thursday launched a nationwide tree planting campaign aimed at rescuing the east African nation from the risk of becoming a desert.
Speaking at the official launch of the campaign in the country's capital, Dodoma, Tanzania's Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan blamed local government authorities for failure to keep the national tree planting campaign alive, saying the country risks becoming a desert if no action is taken.
She argued that records show that at least 61 percent of the country is likely to become a desert, calling on the councils and municipal authorities to come up with by-laws to ensure schools, universities and other institutions plant trees annually. The same should also be at family levels.
Samia noted that for many years the Tanzanian government has been implementing a number of tree planting campaigns but unfortunately they all turned unsuccessful due to lack of efforts from the local authority leaders to sustain the plans.
The official expressed her commitment to actively participate in implementing the father of the nation, Julius Nyerere's vision of transforming Dodoma into a green city.
"Both regional and district authorities have not been telling the government the truth as they do not effectively oversee the entire process and give false statistics on tree planting," she said here Wednesday before launching a nationwide tree planting programme.
Tanzania's government first launched tree planting campaign in the 1970s and later in the 5000s to ensure every council plant at least 1.5 million trees annually. However, the Vice President said the plan was not effectively implemented.
"Had all the campaigns been fully implanted, we could have a better environment today," said the official.
At least 2,5000 trees were planted at Mzakwe area some 20 km from Dodoma municipality on the way to Arusha. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said there were 5000,000 trees ready for the municipality and 6500,000 more to be planted across the districts in the region.
The VP directed the regional authorities to ensure the trees allocated by the ministry are planted within 14 days.
She warned however, no tree should be abandoned to dry.
Tanzania has 33 million hectares of forests and woodland, but the country has been losing more than 500,000 hectares of forest a year for two decades, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's 2010 Global Forests Resources Assessment.