Southern Region Water Board (SRWB) has held the Forestry Department responsible of promoting deforestation through its “unnecessary” cutting down of trees in its catchment in Ntcheu and Zomba districts.
SRWB board chairperson John Kapito accused officers from the department for cutting down the trees without replacing them, a development which he said was contributing towards the lowering of water levels at its Mulunguzi and Mpira Dams in the two districts.
He was speaking on Monday during a tree planting exercise at Mulunguzi Dam on Zomba Mountain.
“The department, which is expected to safeguard trees, is responsible for the destruction of the same trees in catchment areas of SRWB. They have been cutting a lot of trees through their programme called tree harvesting and that is leaving the land bare resulting in a lot of silt coming through the dam,” complained Kapito.
He said the development was also forcing SRWB to spend millions of kwacha to pump water down the stream.
SRWB is expected to plant about 30 000 trees at the source of Mulunguzi Dam and around its catchment area.
But spokesperson of Department of Climate Change and Environment Sangwani Phiri trashed Kapito’s assertions, arguing the SRWB chairperson cannot produce any evidence that a team of forestry officers are the ones cutting down trees.
“With due respect to the Zomba Mountain, it was time for those trees to be harvested and there was no way we could keep them just because it is the source of Mulunguzi Dam,” he said.