18 August 2018
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Tuesday, 08 May 2018 04:54

Ntchisi chief appeals for a review of the Forestry Act

Written by  Pauline Kaude
Some of the participants at the meeting share experiences in their various areas Some of the participants at the meeting share experiences in their various areas

Ntchisi, May 7, 2018: Traditional Authority Kasakula of Ntchisi district has appealed for a review of the Forestry Act, claiming the current one is weak because encroachers are mostly asked to pay just a small fine.

He was speaking during a bi-annual meeting for Ntchisi and Nkhotakota districts which are implementing an ecosystems protection project under the Training Support for Partners (TSP).

The chief lamented at how forest reserves in his area are being depleted as people are taking advantage of the current Act’s weak punitive measures.

“We are losing most of our trees because of people who are cutting them down for charcoal burning and other uses and when they are caught, they are just asked to pay fines which are usually in small amounts,” said the chief.

Kasakula said he suspects that corruption among forestry officials is also contributing to the depletion of forests in his area, claiming he is not even sure whether the fines are indeed paid as they are not provided with any proof of payment.

“Again, if the fines are paid at all, the money goes directly to government coffers and the communities in the area do not benefit from it,” said Kasakula, adding that some forestry staff do not act when communities report to them about encroachment as most of them have overstayed in the area.

The chief, however, said together with his fellow traditional leaders, he has set up by-laws in the area which are aimed at protecting the forest reserves.

He cited patrols conducted by community members and the use of Gulewamkulu dancers in guarding the reserves as some of the initiatives being undertaken by the community members in trying to protect the forest reserves.  

Ntchisi District Forestry Officer, Donnex Mtambo admitted that some officials from his department have indeed overstayed and his office will look into the matter and take some disciplinary action. 

TSP Program Manager, Hastings Chamatwa described the meeting as important as it provided a forum for sharing of experiences by communities from the two districts in the implementation of the two year project which started in 2016.

While concurring with chief Kasakula that corruption is contributing to depletion of the forest reserves, Chamatwa called for joint efforts by all stakeholders involved in natural resource management in fighting against the malpractice.

“Corruption is a very bad animal in development and it is causing a lot of damage to our forests. We find truckloads of charcoal passing through road blocks producing fake receipts or no receipts at all,” said Chamatwa.

The project is being implemented in Traditional Authorities Kasakula, Nthondo and Vuso Jere in Ntchisi district while in Nkhotakota it is being implemented in Chief Mwansambo’s area.


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