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Lazarus Chakwera against charcoal production

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President Lazarus Chakwera has dared Malawians to use alternative sources of energy in a bid to change the current state of affairs, whereby over 32, 000 hectares of trees are cut down annually.

Chakwera was speaking in Nkhata Bay Wednesday during the launch of this year’s tree-planting season when, according to Forestry and Natural Resources Minister Nancy Tembo, 60 million trees would be planted.

The season, being observed under the theme ‘Trees and Forests for Improved Health and Wellbeing’, will run for 120 days from December to April 2021.

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Chakwera said the main driver of deforestation in the country was charcoal production, with encroachment for settlements and agriculture coming a close second.

“I am pleased that the ministry is engaging the private sector, the youth and women to be involved in the development of bamboo plantations, briquettes and other alternatives in order to restore degraded forest landscapes. I commend those of you who have responded positively to this call for public participation in addressing the serious problem of illegal charcoal use in urban and peri-urban areas,” he said.

Chakwera then commended firms such as Infinity, Kawandama Hills, and Afribam; institutions like Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and projects such as Feed the Future and Modern Cooking for Healthy Forests, for the role they are playing in promoting sustainable sources of energy.

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Apart from encouraging companies to take part in the Adopt a Forest Initiative, the President asked leaders of community groups, national institutions and schools, among others, to take part in the Each- One-Plant-One Tree initiative.

“The tragedy is that there are many in our society who still do not see this clear link between our forests and our survival. We, as a global community, are losing forests at an alarming rate of 10 million trees per year. The myopic mindset fuelling this madness has not spared Malawi and, so, we must mount a robust campaign to defeat it,” he said.

Before presiding over the launch, Chakwera visited the home of the late Aleke Banda, where he planted a tree.

Tembo, on her part, said there was an opportunity for the youth to be involved in the task of planting and tending trees.

“We are designing a programme where we want the youth to be incorporated into the tree-planting exercise where they will be given a little something in form of money. We are also on a campaign asking partners for finances in the management of our forests,” he said.

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