Sub Traditional Authority (ST/A) Nyalwanga of Nkhata Bay District has accused the Department of Forestry of encouraging deforestation in the district by allowing people to freely engage in charcoal business.
Speaking during a tree planting exercise at Chikwina in Nkhata Bay organised by Temwa Organisation last Thursday, the chief said the Department of Forestry was weak when fighting charcoal business.
He said the department and its partners should not allow people to operate the charcoal business freely along the Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay Road and other roads across the country.
Said Nyalwanga: “We need support from the Forestry Department to curb the charcoal business. They are not helping us. They are not taking part in controlling this business. When you are travelling from Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu, you see a lot of bags being sold along the road.
“The forestry officials also use the same road, but they do nothing. They wait for someone to buy and confiscate the charcoal at the road block. We need to pounce on the source.”
Northern zone senior forestry officer Samuel Mbale agreed that charcoal production is a big challenge to the conservation of forests in Nkhata Bay District.
He said: “We are trying our best to ensure that the forests are protected. We are promoting planting of fruit trees so that people can harvest fruits and sell to earn a living.
“We are also encouraging people to plant trees that add fertility to the soil so that people realise bumper yields and are able to sell surplus.”
Temwa programmes manager Kondwani Botha lamented at the rate at which people are cutting down trees in the district.
He said his organisation is also encouraging sustainable agricultural practices and promoting other economic activities so that people do not depend on forests.