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Government slashes this year’s tree planting target

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By Patience Lunda:

The Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources has reduced the quantity of trees to be planted during the 2021-22 national forestry season from 60 million to 40 million.

The Daily Times has learned that the decision has been made after observing that the tree-survival rate in the country remains low.

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Director of Forestry Clement Chilima defended the move, saying it would increase planted trees’ chances of survival.

“The tree survival rate at the moment is at between 65 and 70 percent. As such reducing the number of trees to be planted during the 2021- 20 national forestry season will have no negative impact on the reforestation drive in the country.

“To the contrary, the move will help Malawi increase planted trees’ chances of survival. I plead with those that have planted trees, as well as those that planted trees during the last national forestry season, to take care of them,” he said.

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He said if the tree survival rate improved in the country, there would be less problems associated with lack of green cover.

“It is of no use that we should be planting 60 million trees every year and those trees don’t survive. Our expectation is that, with the new strategy, we will increase the area that is restored through both planting and taking care of trees that were planted,” Chilima said.

The ministry has also asked parliamentarians to champion the 2021-22 national forestry season by launching constituency tree-planting campaigns.

He said this would help stakeholders reach the set target.

Chilima said they had, among other strategies, started supplying tree seedlings to members of Parliament.

“We believe that, this way, the country will meet its tree-planting target,” the Director of Forestry said.

Natural resource conservation advocate Maloto Chimkombero commended the government for making the decision.

“The truth is that the country has been planting 60 million trees each national forestry season but it has been failing to take care of the trees.

“I believe that the issue of poor survival rate of tress was coming in because the ministry did not have sound strategies of ensuring that planted trees survive. With the latest development, I believe that the tree survival rate will, this season, be higher than previously,” he said.

He said the important thing was to closely monitor the process.

“The problem we, as Malawians, have been facing is that tree-planting is regarded as a one-day project. Once people plant trees, they don’t monitor and evaluate progress. Moving forward, the government should ensure that whoever plants trees looks after them,” Chimkombero said.

Malawi’s target is to restore 4.5 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030

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