Malawi government to deploy soldiers to Chikangawa Forest
Malawi government through the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has disclosed plans to extend the deployment of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers from Dzalanyama Forest in Lilongwe to the endangered Chikangawa Forest which forms part of Viphya Plantations in Mzimba.
This follows continued depletion of natural resources in the country’s forest reserves.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Times, Natural Resources Minister Bright Msaka said government is cracking down on unsustainable natural resource use by, among other things, engaging soldiers and intensifying the training and arming of game wardens.
He further warned that the rate at which natural resources are being depleted in the country is posing a serious threat to lakes and rivers, laying particular emphasis on the eroded soils that end up in Lake Malawi as something that may eventually dry up the lake.
Msaka added that his ministry is going to institute a review of legislation regarding the punishments that are meted out on those that contravene natural resources-related laws.
“Currently, the laws don’t provide enough deterrent but courts give punishments within the requirements of the law. There is need for serious consideration of these punishments now that we all have seen the adverse effects of unsustainable natural resources use,” said Msaka.
He added that government is replenishing trees that have been cut down in its forest reserves.
“Issues of biodiversity are critical in the modern world and we have no time to relax. It is now very clear that the status of biodiversity in the country is declining significantly and there is need for concerted efforts in fighting this decline,” said Msaka.
Among many other things, the Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee of Parliament recently warned that the unsustainable harvesting of trees in Chikangawa was threatening its future.
The committee further called on government to crack down on all those that owe Viphya Plantations hundreds of millions of kwacha and to consider placing the management of the plantations in new hands.
“The Viphya Plantations should be closed to harvesters with immediate effect including suspension of concessions to bring sanity in the management of plantations in Malawi. Concessionaries should resume activities only after full settlements of the bills and other outstanding issues,” said the committee’s chairperson Werani Chilenga.
Msaka himself recently disclosed that it is estimated that unsustainable use of natural resources in the country is draining K86 billion every year, an amount that translates to 5.3 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
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