Raiply Malawi Limited, which plies its trade in Chikangawa Forest, also known as Viphya Plantations, has expressed concern over cases of bush fire in the forest saying this was affecting their timber business.
Raiply, which has a concession of 20,000 hectares of trees in the 53,000-hectare plantation, said it loses 40 hectares yearly to fire.
Though he could not quantify the losses, Forest Manager Nathaniel Nthala said the company was working on ways of combating the fire.
“We experience major losses due to fire. For example, last year we lost almost 45 hectares of trees to fire,” he said.
Nthala said the company intended to plant 1.6 million trees covering 1,000 hectares during the planting season.
“In terms of our operations, we will start with the nursery for this year. The plan is to raise 1.6 million seedlings and plant 1,000 hectares. So, after planting, it does not end there. We have to take care of the trees. We also do some pruning as well as weeding. In weeding, we engage stakeholders apart from using our workforce. We do this to reduce fire hazards in the forest,” he said.
Raiply’s concession area is under Inkosi Kapingo Sibande, whose subjects are alleged to be causative agents of the wild fires.
Inkosi Sibande said he conducts awareness campaigns to make sure the citizenry protect tress in the forest.
“We are benefitting from the forest through various things the company gives us. Most of the people here are employed by the company and are able to feed their families. The company has also built school blocks and provides learning and teaching equipment. It is, therefore, our role that we protect the forest so that we benefit more,” he said.
Raiply—a wood processing firm with its headquarters at the Chikangawa Forest in Mzimba and shops in Lilongwe and Blantyre— signed a logging concession with the government in 1999.