DAR ES SALAAM, The Tanzanian government is to launch a nationwide tree-planting programme this month, says Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Professor Jumanne Maghembe.

Speaking during a meeting over the weekend with the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Environment and Union, January Makamba, Maghembe also revealed that a joint meeting of the two ministries would be held here starting Jan 16.

The meeting will hammer out a strategy to implement the tree-planting campaign. Prof. Maghembe, who headed the Water Ministry in the last government, explained the inseparable link between water and life as he underscored the importance of the planned campaign.

The minister said there had been extensive deforestation and degradation of the environment, and the planned programme seeks to check deforestation and degradation of nature and stabilize the ecosystem.

He said huge tracts of land had been set aside for afforestation and environment protection with the aim of protecting water sources, purifying air, increasing the amount of rain in the country, reducing heat in the atmosphere and checking desertification effects.

Makamba said activities of all ministries, public and private institutions had impact on the environment, adding that there is every reason for public and private sectors to co-operate to protect environment.

He said the coming programme is one of its kind, explaining that local authorities will enlist cooperation of the people so that at the individual level people feel proud of planting trees in their plots