12 December 2017
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Communities bemoan deforestation at Chiradzulu Mountain

Written by  Linda Likomwa
People captured carrying charcoal bags from Chiradzulu Mountain - Pic by Linda Likomwa People captured carrying charcoal bags from Chiradzulu Mountain - Pic by Linda Likomwa

Chiradzulu, November 25, 2017: Communities inChiradzulu have condemned Chiradzulu District Forestry Officials for failing to contain deforestation that is taking place at an alarming rate at Chiradzulu Mountain.

Some of the concerned citizens told Malawi News Agency (MANA), in an interview, that workers at the District Forest Office (DFO) are busy sending police officers and forest guards to some areas in the district to confiscate charcoal and firewood from Mozambique but not doing much regarding deforestation at Chiradzulu Mountain.

“Most of the times we see vehicles that have been apprehended because of ferrying charcoal and firewood, which according to our investigations is coming from Mozambique; but the funny thing is that not much is being done by the same office as regards deforestation at Chiradzulu Mountain. Each day we see people caring charcoal from the mountain and they (DFO) fail to take action on them,” concerned resident, Andrew Banda pointed out.  

He highlighted that the DFO sends police officers and forest guards to Bangwe, Milepa and Namadzi to confiscate charcoal and firewood instead of sending them into the mountain to control the situation.

Banda said each day more than 50 trees are cut down in the mountain, which is a very worrisome situation which might leave the mountain wiped clean.

Commenting on the allegations, some officers at the District Forest Office who chose to speak on condition of anonymity blamed the district leadership which is aware of the situation but failing to act on the situation.

Chiradzulu District Forest Officer  (DFO), Yamikani Makwinja confirmed that deforestation was indeed taking place at Chiradzulu Mountain and the office is implementing a number of initiatives to control the situation.

“We know that people are burning charcoal and making timber in the mountain and as an office, we are doing all we can to control the situation. Confiscation of charcoal and fuel wood and placing of a 20 km boundary to protect trees from bush fires and preventing people from farming in the mountain are some of the activities currently underway,” he said.

Makwinja added that her office was planning on using an administrative approach to protect the mountain because the area which is greatly affected is the one that is close to the Boma.

“Areas that are managed by the community surrounding the mountain are regenerating and they are rated as some of the best forest natural regenerations in the country and in those areas they also banned the community from fetching fire wood in the protected area,” he said.

The DFO bemoaned the tendency of some people who alert charcoal producers in the mountain when the office plans to go with police officers to arrest them to stop the malpractice saying no arrest has been made of late due to this practice.  

Makwinja said government loses a lot of revue through charcoal burning than protecting the trees in the mountain.

Acting Chiradzulu District Commissioner (DC), Harris Kachale said his office was concerned with the malpractice and asked all stakeholders to join hands to end the problem.

He said the matter would be tabled at the next full council meeting so that the chiefs, councillors and other stakeholders come up with a lasting solution to the problem.

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