THE country’s first indigenous tree planting college is set to open in Mangwe, Matabeleland South province, on Sunday, with Vice-President Kembo Mohadi as guest of honour.
The $1,3 million project is the brainchild of the Gospel of God Church International 1932, headquartered in Mangwe.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

The college, to be named Gospel of God Church International 1932 School of Environment (GGCISE) will be constructed on a 32-hectare piece of land inside the church’s Hannansvale Farm, and will have an enrolment of 100 students.

“We have decided to set up this college after realising that a lot of energy and resources were being spent on preserving exotic trees while neglecting our own indigenous trees.

“From time immemorial, our forefathers have been surviving on indigenous trees and yet the trees continue to be ignored,” Never Bonde, one of the project founders and the country’s tree planting ambassador said.

“We have already identified the land for the college at our farm in Mangwe. We are going to have a ground breaking ceremony on April 15 at the venue where Vice-President Kembo Mohadi will be the guest of honour. Construction of the college will resume immediately after the ceremony,” he said.

Bonde said the centre will focus mainly on indigenous trees. According to Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe statistics the country loses about 330 000 hectares of land through deforestation yearly, a development Bonde said needed to be addressed.

“The only college of this kind which I am aware of is located in Kenya. The country has done a lot in terms of indigenous trees preservation because of this college. This new college will certainly go long way in fighting deforestation in the country,” he said.

Bonde has tree nurseries across the country where he is distributing seedlings to schools, local authorities and farmers as well as planting and protecting existing trees.

Bonde was appointed tree planting ambassador by the government in 2016 due to his passion for indigenous tree planting. So far he has planted nearly 4 000 trees in schools among other public institutions countrywide and says he is targeting five million indigenous trees by 2030 to save them from extinction.