The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management says about 3 000 hectares will be replanted with trees this year in the heavily degraded man-made Viphya Plantations, popularly known as Chikangawa Forest, in Mzimba.
In recent years, the 20 000 hectare forest has experienced massive deforestation through destruction by fire and activities orchestrated by timber sawyers.
Speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana) in Mzuzu on Monday, after a public debate organised by Youth and Society on the fate of the once impressive Chikangawa Forest, plantations manager in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management, Enock, Zangazanga, said as one way of reviving the forest’s status, government and other stakeholders will replant over three million tree seedlings.
He assured: “If everything goes as planned, government, together with all operators working in Chikangawa, will replant over 3 000 hectares with trees. We have cooperative societies there, so we expect to replant the forest should the rains be favourable to us.”
Zangazanga said government is now able to employ contractors to take care of the trees in the forest, a development he said was likely to improve the status of the forest.
He further disclosed that among other stakeholders to help in the exercise is Alliance One Tobacco Company which has pledged to replant 200 hectares in the forest.
Zangazanga also hailed central government for accepting the establishment of the Forest Development Fund (FDF) in Chikangawa Forest to save funds from the forest and use them in different needy areas of the forest.
Speaking earlier during the debate, Elisha Mando, a representative of Raiply Malawi, which is the main company entrusted to exploit the forest, said it has replanted about 5 400 hectares since 1999 when it came to ply its trade in the forest.
The debate drew together environmentalists from Mzuzu University, different companies working in Viphya Plantation, youths and members of political parties such as the Alliance for Democracy (Aford), National Salvation Front (Nasaf) and People’s Transformation (Petra).