Chiefs from Mulanje and the Department of Forestry on Thursday held a meeting where they strategised on how to conserve forests on Mulanje Mountain.
The department said it chose Mulanje Mountain as it is considered one of the physical features with a wide range of resources, apart from attracting tourists.
Mulanje district forestry officer Eric Mbingwani said in an interview they involved chiefs as the main stakeholders to improve the management of the forest reserve on the mountain.
He said: “We have developed a plan. What is entailed in it is that the department is engaging all stakeholders involved in forest-related activities.
“Previously, it was only the department that was involved, but we thought if we engage other stakeholders, there will be an improvement.”
Mbingwani said lack of a strong will to protect forests on the mountain puts important species such as Mulanje Cedar at risk of extinction from illegal loggers.
In a separate interview, Senior Chief Chikumbu, welcomed the initiative by the Forestry Department to involve chiefs, saying they will work closely to ensure that forests are protected.
When Mulanje Cedar was declared an endangered species in 2013, there were about 54 000 trees on Mulanje Mountain, but by April this year, only seven mature cedar trees stood on the mountain, according to Forestry Research Institute of Malawi.
Cedar takes between 50 and 60 years to mature. n