Alarmed by the rate at which Viphya Plantation, commonly known as Chikangawa Forest is being depleted, four Cabinet ministers on Saturday teamed up with Raiply Malawi Limited in an afforestation drive.
Chikangawa, which is the country’s largest reserve of timber with an approximate of 53,501 hectares, has been exposed to mainly bushfires costing some of the concession holders such Raiply a fortune.
The ministers, Mark Botomani of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, Symon Vuwa Kaunda (Lands and Urban Development), Jappie Mhango (Health and Population Services) and Ralph Jooma (Transport and Public Works), encouraged Malawians to take part in this year’s tree-planting season to mitigate effects of climate change.
Mhango, who led the other ministers, said Malawi faces calamities such as droughts and floods largely due to man-made actions such wanton cutting down of trees.
“If we want to bring back the forest, we must replant trees because Viphya Plantations has been one of our treasures in the country,” he said.
He said the ministers took part in the exercise to demonstrate the government’s commitment towards reforestation in the country.
Raiply Malawi Limited Chief Executive Officer, Krishna Das, said the company wants to plant 1000 hectares in this year’s tree-planting season.
“We have almost reached to level of 400 hectares and we are remaining with 600 hectares,” Das said.
He said encroachment remains a serious problem which affects the smooth running of the company, as most encroachers set the forest on fire.
Between June and December 2019, the company reported to police 35 cases of land encroachment.
Last year Raiply, which has a concession of 20,000 hectares in the plantation, said it loses 40 hectares yearly to fire.
President Peter Mutharika launched the 2019/2020 tree-planting season in December in Mulanje under the theme: “Trees and forests for transformed landscape and livelihoods”.