About 120 encroachers have left Dzonzi Forest Reserve in Ntcheu District following the court’s determination made last year, ordering the people to leave the protected area.
On November 6 2020, nine people were convicted for encroaching the protected area.
However, during a tour of Dzonzi and Mvai forest reserves on Monday, Ntcheu District Council and other stakeholders discovered that about 120 people had left the forest.
In an interview, Ntcheu district forestry officer Donnex Mtambo said that after the court’s determination, people are leaving the forest.
“We have been doing patrols to see people’s compliance with the court’s order,” he said.
However, Mtambo said the situation was different with Mvai Forest Reserve as people went back despite the court’s determination.
Environmental activist Maloto Chimkombero said the development shows that more people can leave the protected areas if negotiations can be enhanced among the council, political leaders and encroachers.
He said: “We should understand that this is happening because of overpopulation.
“So, there should be deliberate policies to relocate such people to other places or help them with other means of earning a living.”
Dzonzi Forest Reserve covers 4 425 hectares (ha) while Mvai Forest Reserve covers 5 619ha.