About 138 hectares (ha) of bare land in Balaka is now flourishing with different types of trees, courtesy of the Enhanced Public Works Programme (EPWP).
The programme sought to address environmental degradation through planting trees and protecting river banks, among others.
In an interview, Zalimu Catchment Management Committee vice-chairperson Alinafe Dingaliro said the project has taught them to protect the environment.
She said: “We raised 37 676 different species of tree seedlings. We planted 32 676 seedlings on 13ha.
“With traditional leaders, we formulated by-laws to protect the trees.”
Dingaliro also said the programme facilitated the care of natural forests.
On his part, Mtumbwe Catchment Management Committee chairperson Akuyaga Jauma said the programme has changed the face of the area.
He said: “We raised 25 000 tree seedlings and planted 24 500 trees in different areas, covering 56.4ha.
“We will continue to work with the District Forestry Office to get more knowledge on how to take care of the trees.”
Balaka district forestry officer Ida Mkwezalamba said vegetative cover can help the district get more rainfall.
“Balaka is prone to drought. So, we hope the trees will help solve this problem,” she said.
The other catchment areas are Toleza which planted 26 620 tree seedlings on 11ha, Chimpakati which planted 39 685 tree seedlings on 28ha and Malikula which planted 41 200 tree seedlings on 32ha.
Government through the National Local Government Finance Committee with funding from the World Bank was piloting the EPWP in 10 districts.