President Lazarus Chakwera has challenged Malawians to switch from their overdependence on charcoal and wood for domestic and industrial use in favour of clean sustainable energy alternatives.
Chakwera made the remarks Friday when he launched this year’s tree planting season at Chipalamawamba School Ground in Mangochi.
The President said Malawians should accept the responsibility for the current degradation of forests and other natural resources before they start implementing corrective measures.
“Restoring degraded landscape is non-negotiable. We need to immediately switch to sustainable alternative of energy such as briquettes and gas for cocking. We cannot continue to go as if nothing wrong is happening in the environment sector,” he said.
Chakwera said his government accepted the Bonn Challenge of restoring 4.5 million forest cover by 2030 as a way of showing Malawians that it is possible to restore the degraded landscapes in the country.
He challenged the corporate world to support the Adopt a Forest Reserve initiative being championed by the Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure that trees cover more land.
“I am happy that traditional leaders have embraced the responsibility to take care of the forest resources. We cannot talk of Malawi 2063 if we are not taking care of the forest. This is our responsibility and we must to do it with pride,” he said.
Malawi has 84 forest reserves that are gazetted. Of these, only four have been adopted by banks, with National Bank adopting three and FDH adopting one.
In Mangochi, National Bank is supporting the Mangochi Palm Forest Reserve where Chakwera planted two trees.
In his remarks, Minister of Natural Resources Eisenhower Mkaka said his ministry initiated the Adopt a Forest initiative to incentivise community efforts in taking care of the forest resources in the country.
He said his ministry has a target to restore about 4.5 million hectares of forest by 2030 through various initiatives supported by donors and the government.
He called on people to join the initiative.
Mkaka said over 50 million tree seedlings will be planted on 29,000 hectares of land across the country during this tree planting season.
According to studies, in Malawi deforestation is estimated to be responsible for the loss of 33,000 hectares of trees per year.
This is mainly attributed to agriculture expansion, tobacco growing and excessive use of biomass.
The studies further say deforestation is a major driver of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
It also disturbs natural processes such as biogeochemical, hydrological and ecological cycles.