Dressing mother Malawi


Malawi is a country being laid bare.

And the culprits are not aliens; those culpable are Malawians themselves, who only care about themselves and not natural resources.

A once forested Malawi is being laid bare, tree by tree.


According to one United Nations agency, in this case Food and Agriculture Organisation, up to 34.4 percent, about 3,237,000 hectares, of the land in Malawi is forested.

The agency indicates that, out of these hectares, 28.9 percent, or 934,000, is classified as primary forest.

So dire is the situation that, according to the Department of Forestry, a good number of trees are being lost.


Take, for instance, the situation in 2010. At that time, the country had 1.39 million hectares of natural forest, extending to over 12 percent of its land area.

By the year 2021, Malawi lost 14.7 kilo-hectares of natural forest.

In Carbon dioxide terms, this is equivalent to 5.21 metric tonnes of emissions.

No sane Malawian would be proud of that record.

Other people have also written on the issue, notably Susan Ngwira and Teiji Watanabe who, in their research, titled ‘An Analysis of the Causes of Deforestation in Malawi: A Case of Mwazisi’, indicate that deforestation is recognised as a major driver of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The two add that “it also disturbs natural processes such as biogeochemical, hydrological and ecological cycles. In Malawi, deforestation is estimated to be responsible for the loss of 33,000 hectares per year, and is mainly attributed to agriculture expansion, tobacco growing, and excessive use of biomass”.

What am I trying to say? Some Malawians have been spending their energy on unproductive things; things like tree cutting.

And the worst part is that very few people are taking part in tree-planting exercises.

And, worse still, very few of the planted trees survive.

In the end, when rains fall in droves or heavy winds take centre stage, there are no barriers to stop them and the pain, Dear Pain, becomes unbearable because of massive damage.

To put you in the picture, this is our situation now; we run the risk of failing to meet this year’s tree-planting target.

Just now, there are doubts that the 2022-23 forestry season target of 50 million trees will be met by April 15 as, so far, 28 million trees have been planted, with a month to go.

This comes at a time the Southern Region has been affected by Cyclone Freddy, which washed away crops, buildings, trees and killed livestock and people.

However, and as expected, Deputy Director of Forestry Titus Zulu has said it is too early to start casting doubt on the possibility of meeting the target.

He indicates that figures are still trickling in. He also pins his hopes on the fact that trees are being planted on daily basis, expressing optimism that the target will be met.

However, I choose to agree with natural resource conservation advocate Charles Bakolo, who has cast doubt on the possibility of meeting the tree-planting target.

“Since we cannot plant anymore trees because of time, the only solution to help meet our target is to promote natural regeneration activities across the country because it helps in restoration of natural forests,” he said.

The 2022-23 tree-planting season was launched by President Lazarus Chakwera in Mangochi District on December 23 2022, when he announced that the campaign’s target is 50 million trees.

Well, maybe it is not too late. For us to save ourselves from the pain that comes with reckless tree cutting, we need to plant trees now.

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