Salima, February 3, 2016: The Malawi Lake Basin Program (MLBP) has said that it will continue to lead the reforestation of natural forests in Salima district as a way of preventing the district from completely losing its natural vegetation due to continued charcoal burning.
Statistics from the district forest office put the district as one of the highest producers of illegal charcoal and fire wood.
Speaking to MANA on the sidelines of a tree planting season for Kambwiri cluster in Salima South East, Blandina Nkhoma, MLBP Acting District Coordinator said that illegal charcoal burning has left most parts of the district bare, a thing which has affected rainfall pattern and availability of water bodies.
“In some areas especially those near nature forest reserves, the situation is very pathetic, you can hardly see any tree. It is against this background that we are encouraging villagers to plant more trees through groups called forest clubs,” said Nkhoma.
Nkhoma further said that this year alone using the forest clubs, MLBP targets to plant and manage 2 million tree seedlings.
‘We are aware that charcoal burning will continue if the people are not given alternative sources of income that is why our programs are being done concurrently with interventions giving them alternative ways of increasing income generating activities such as bee keeping and profitable agriculture techniques,” said Nkhoma.
On the impact of the campaign Nkhoma said, “Indicators are showing that in the last season and the season before, we managed to get a tree survival rate of 86 percent of the 2.5 million trees planted in each season.
Speaking in another interview Chairman of Salima District Council, councilor Peter Kadammanja, who is also councilor for Kambwiri Ward, warned that if there is no alternative way of income generating among the growing population the wanton cutting down of trees will continue.
“Deforestation is a big problem in this district and the area of Kambwiri is a hot spot as it is the home of natural forests which are targeted by charcoal burners,” said Kadammanja.
Kadammanja said that he is pleased that governing structures at the local level have stepped up efforts to curb the rampant deforestation.
“Efforts by partners like MLBP and Total Land Care are worthy to be commended and likewise the change of attitude by local leaders who are now active in encouraging their subjects to plant and take care of trees,” said Kadammanja.
The council chair also thanked government for the newly launched MASAF IV projects which are targeting forestation and environment management.