The country will now have an amended Forestry law following the passing of the Forestry amendment Bill in Parliament on Friday.
Among other things, the new law will see offenders who cut down trees for making charcoal in protected areas paying increased fines ranging from K100,000 to K10 million.
Representatives of political parties in the august House, while supporting the Bill, expressed concerns on some provisions in the Bill.
UTM spokesperson in the House, Chrispine Mphande, said considering that there is a provision in the Bill which says people found loitering in forests should pay fines, there is need to reflect on the issues as some people go to forests just for leisure.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislature Eisnhower Mkaka echoed Mphande’s statements.
In an interview after the Bill was passed, Minister of Natural Resources, Bintony Kutsaira, said the Bill, once passed into law, will bring sanity to the industry.
“We were having challenges especially with charcoal burners and this new law, with the provision of stiff penalties, we are hoping that there shall now be sanity in the country,” he said.
People who shall fail to pay the fines once the Bill is assented to by the President, will be imprisoned for a maximum of 10 years depending on the offence.
The new law will replace the Forestry Act of 1997.