Speaking during a weekly address to the nation in Lilongwe on Monday, President Dr. Chakwera said the country is losing forest cover at an alarming rate of about 32,000 hectares every year, the major driver of this loss being tree cutting for charcoal and firewood. He warned those in the business of encouraging the depletion of forests through illegal cutting down of trees for charcoal and fuel wood, that they will face the law.
President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera mentioned that Malawi’s natural resources are like bank accounts people live on, but the mistake has been to make withdrawals from the livelihoods account without replenishing it with meaningful deposits.
Dr. Chakwera added that Malawi’s natural environment is under threat by climate change, causing unpredictable rainfall patterns, droughts and prolonged dry spells which have an adverse effect on the country’s agricultural productivity and way of life.
He urged Malawians to save the natural environment for ‘Malawi Watsopano wokomera Tonse’ to make sure that everyone has clean water for washing clothes, bathing, cooking and irrigation and for ‘Malawi watsopano’ with a thriving tourism industry that brings the world and its riches to its door.
In his speech, Dr. Chakwera called on the private sector to play a key role in the restoration and management of forest resources and the creation of employment and foreign earnings through increased timber exports and the community leaders, who are the custodians of the natural resources to fulfill their responsibility and the practices that restore the balance among ecological, social – cultural and economic benefits.
Dr. Chakwera said his Administration is encouraging the establishment of community woodlots and trees on farms which can be a source of livelihoods in the short, medium and long term saying this year’s National Forestry Season begins on 15th December and will run for a period of 4 months, urging every Malawian including the private sector and faith community to support this initiative so that this year’s Forestry Season positively contributes to a Greener and Healthy Malawi.
He added the Government’s goal is to restore 4.5 million hectares of degraded forest landscape through tree planting, natural regeneration and improved land husbandry.
The President announced that his Administration is putting together a taskforce that will coordinate efforts to address environmental issues in a multisectoral approach and aiming for specific targets within a specific time frame saying the taskforce will include experts with specialize in issues of water management, natural resources management, environmental management, climate change, mining, Local Government and financing.
…. ‘’This is our country, this is our home, we did not inherit if from our parents. We have borrowed it from our children, if we each do our part, we will succeed in leaving it to them better than we found it,’’…said Dr. Chakwera.
By Vincent Gunde