The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander General Griffin Supuni-Phiri has described the country’s deforestation rate as a security risk affecting MDF operations.
He made the remarks at the launch of this year’s National Bank of Malawi plc (NBM) tree planting exercise in Zomba on Saturday.
Supuni-Phiri said deforestation is affecting both their training and operations as they need forest cover to conduct trainings properly.
“This is why we are addressing this issue by not only conducting patrols but also by planting and taking care of trees. Apart from protecting this country from our external enemies, we also jealously guard our constitutional obligation of protecting this country from internal enemies and those involved in deforestation are our internal enemies because the practice is a security risk,” he said.
The army commander added that the low intensity operations that MDF conducts to flush out illegal loggers is a desperate measure aimed at fighting deforestation.
On his part, NBM chief executive officer Macfussy Kawawa said deforestation affects the business community, citing siltation and the low water levels in Lake Malawi and its sole outlet Shire River which has affected power generation.
NBM partnered MDF and the Roman Catholic Church in the tree-planting exercise. The bank donated 50 000 seedlings to the army to be planted this season.