The Department of Forestry says it will reclaim land encroached by residents cultivating at the bottom of Ndirande Mountain Forest Reserve in Blantyre.
Blantyre Forestry Zonal chief officer responsible for plantations and reserves Sabina Manda said her office is engaging community leaders on the prospects of stopping their subjects from further encroachment.
She said this on the sidelines of a tree-planting exercise at the foot of Ndirande Mountain organised by Blantyre Press Club (BPC) in conjunction with Puma Energy.
“We agreed that this should be the last time for people to cultivate on the reserved land. Once they harvest their crops, we will recover the whole land by planting trees,” said Manda.
She said previously, efforts to restore the status of the forest reserve have been hampered by lack of resources.
Manda, therefore, commended BPC and Puma Energy for leading the initiative to plant trees in the area.
“The Forestry Department is eager to manage trees with the local community around the forest reserve. A good number of trees were carelessly harvested, but we want to bring that to a stop,” she said.
BPC chairperson Blessings Kanache bemoaned the encroachment, describing it as “a sad situation”.
“You saw how difficult it was to plant trees in the reserve area. We literally planted right in a maize field,” he said.
Puma Energy chief executive officer Davis Lanjesi said it was pleasing to take part in the initiative.
“I am impressed with the efforts that we have made through the years to ensure that Malawi recovers its forest cover,” he said.