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Fire destroys 950 hectares of Chikangawa Forest

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By Samuel Kalimira:

Wildfire has damaged trees and seedlings on 950 hectares of Viphya Plantations, popularly known as Chikangawa Forest, in Mzimba District, a senior official has confirmed.

Over 100 hectares that had seedlings planted a few years ago have been destroyed completely.

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Major concessionaire of the plantation, Raiply Malawi Chief Executive Officer Khrishna Das, yesterday said some trees should be replanted.

Das said he has no idea as to who started the fire and the reason for doing so.

He, however, linked the fire to surrounding communities.

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“We face challenges of fires. Many hectares have been destroyed and, to make matters worse, the trees that have been affected are at a tender age.

“We do not have any option with the 100 hectares because they had trees that cannot be recovered. The only thing is to replant,” Das said.

On Wednesday, Das also complained to Minister of Home Affairs, Cecelia Chazama, when she handed over furniture, worth K2 million, to the Department of Immigration in the Northern Region—about the fire and encroachment in the forest.

But Ministry of National Resources, Energy and Mining spokesperson, Sangwani Phiri, said communities have failed the government in its efforts to protect the forest from fire.

Phiri said communities deliberately set fire to trees so as to sabotage the government and Raiply, which benefit from the trees.

“We cannot control the fire because our resources are limited. We work with communities on how we can take care of the trees but, in most cases, they let us down.

“Sometime, we think that this is because they are chased for sewing timber in the Raiply concession [area]. We are shocked by the huge hectares that have been affected. We request the communities to bear with us,” Phiri said.

But Traditional Authority, Kampingo Sibande, distanced his communities from the fire.

Sibande said people who came from other districts set fires because they are not happy when chased from the forest.

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