Machinga District Council has bemoaned rampant deforestation in the district’s protected forest reserves, saying the plunder has the potential to accelerate climate change-related disasters.
The concern follows a report from the district’s forestry office which indicates that over 50 hectares of trees have been lost between 2022 and 2023 in its forest reserves due to rampant deforestation.
Speaking on Wednesday during a tree-planting exercise at Chinguni Primary School, Machinga district environmental officer Andrew Kaitano Hamuza urged local leaders to engage their subjects and facilitate behaviour change initiatives that will help to stop deforestation and land degradation.
A learner plants a tree
He said local leaders should use their powers to champion behaviour change among their communities and embrace initiatives to address the depletion of natural resources.
“Local leaders need to advise their communities against relying on forests as a source of income. This is why the district is always affected by floods,” said Hamuza.
Machinga District Council chairperson Cydrick Stande decried the shortage of security guards in forest reserves, suggesting the need for the council to deploy its own security guards in forest reserves.
“Shortage of security guards has resulted in communities encroaching forestry reserves to produce charcoal. We want more security guards in protected forest reserves such as Chikala Hills, Molipa Hills and Liwonde Forest Reserve,” he said.
Traditional Authority Nkula pledged to deal with people encroaching protected forest reserves.
Meanwhile, Churches Action in Relief and Development field officer Clement Musipiwa suggested giving those in illegal forest activities opportunities to improve their livelihoods.
“We support at least 3 000 farmers from T/As Chamba and Mposa with incentives and knowledge in climate-smart agriculture to conserve the environment,” he said