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Wesm blames environmental degradation on weak laws

The Mulanje Branch of Wild life and Environmental Society of Malawi (Wesm) has attributed the serious environmental degradation the country is experiencing to weak laws.

Speaking during the commemoration of World Environment Day at Mulanje Boma on Saturday, Mulanje Wesm Branch Vice-Chairperson Harrison Palapandu said government becomes the main culprit in environmental degradation for using weak laws on people who are degrading the environment.

“The laws that guide environmental protection in this country are just too weak to deter people from further environmental degradation. The government is failing to treat people who are cutting down trees and committing other environmental degradation crimes with seriousness.

“At the rate Malawi is losing her natural resources, we need action and seriousness more than mere talk.

Government should wake up and do something as is the case in other countries where the laws are very stiff,” he said.

Palapandu also said it is important for government, ordinary people and organisations to join hands in protecting Mulanje Mountain and its resources, including the prized Cedar trees.

Commenting on the issue, Mulanje District Forestry Officer, Lemos Mlaviwa, called on magistrate’s courts to give stiff punishments to people who degrade the environment.

“I wouldn’t say the laws are weak. Whoever is presiding over the cases needs to compound whatever is there within their jurisdiction. For example, if the sentence for the crime is about K5,000 the judge or the magistrate has to compound this 20 times. But most of the magistrates may not know these things.

“So, although the department is in the process of revising the Act, we still believe if we can use what is available, we should be able to justify whatever is happening in our forest reserves,” he said.

Mlaviwa also said the District Forestry Office believes that the forestry co-management agreement that the office signed with traditional authorities around the Mulanje Mountain recently will help in conserving the environment on and around the central Africa’s tallest mountain.

The activities, which started with a big walk from Nkhonya Trading Centre to Mulanje Park, were organised by Wesm with financial and other resource support from Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust, Mulanje District Forestry Office and Progression.

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