Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change has disclosed that it will soon name and shame politicians who are interfering with activities of the Department of Forestry in managing natural resources such as Viphya Plantations— popularly known as Chikangawa—.
The committee alleged that issues such as encroachment and bush fires are some of machinations of politicians.
The committee’s chairperson, Welani Chilenga, made the revelation when the committee visited Raiply Malawi concession area in Chikangawa Forest to appreciate some of the challenges the company is facing.
“There are a lot of politicians who are interfering with management of our natural resources. As a committee, we are joining President Peter Mutharika because in 2015 he declared total war on environmental crimes. And when we come to this plantation, we hear this politician doing that, another politician doing this…and these politicians are from all political parties. So we will produce the report, name and shame them and bring them to book,” Chilenga said.
Apart from encroachment, Raiply Malawi Forestry Manager, Nathaniel Nthala, revealed that the government loses between K2.5 billion to K3 billion in revenues due persistent fires that destroy the trees yearly.
Close to 2,000 hectares of trees have being destroyed by bush fires as of October this year, most of which are small trees.
“Maybe the government should allow people to be collecting firewood logs because we feel that is contributing a lot to the bushfires in the forest,” Nthala said.
But Chilenga said the committee has recommended that Raiply Malawi should adopt modern technologies of controlling bush fires arguing the current system has proved to be wanting.
He said the committee has further recommended that Raiply should strengthen its relationship with communities for proper management of the forest to minimise fires.
But the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Krishna Das, said the company is already doing more to the communities through corporate social responsibility, employment and sub-contracting locals in other works in the plantation.
Principal Forestry Officer in the Department of Forestry, Mary Chisale, agreed with the committee members saying, Raiply Malawi should increase capacity in firefighting and strengthen its working relationship with the Department of Forest.
Raiply Malawi was given a concession area of 20, 000 hectares where they harvest trees and replant about a million seedlings every year.