By Yankho Phiri
Kasungu District Forestry Office (DFO) has suspended issuing of permits to residents who own indigenous trees for cutting and selling for consumption.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency on Wednesday, Kasungu DFO, Henry Kagulo said the decision has been made after the forestry office realized that these people were encroaching protected areas like Kasungu National Park buffer zone using the same permits.
“As the District Forestry Office, we usually give permission to residents who own indigenous trees in their farms to cut it and sell to buyers as guided by section 34 of the Forestry Act so that the wood should not be confiscated by one of our officials or the police. We have however realized that people were taking advantage of the permit to cut down trees in other protected areas,” he explained said.
The DFO has urged tobacco estate owners to keep planting exotic trees on 10 per cent of their farms, saying they are the ones contributing to the stealing of indigenous trees for them to use in their curing tobacco.
“It has been realized that a lot of estates and some extensive farmers have no forests where they can cut trees to cure their tobacco and they instead buy from other people. This is one of the reasons why careless cutting down and stealing of trees has increased,” Kagulo pointed out.
Section 64 of Forestry Act 1997 restricts any person from cutting, removing or uprooting indigenous trees from forestry reserves or protected areas.
The Office has warned that it will punish anyone found in possession or transportation of natural wood within the district.