The Department of Forestry is squeezed financially as our findings show that for the last five years it has been receiving less than half of the requested funding.
In the current financial year, the department is operating with a K2.9 billion deficit as it has been allocated K2.3 billion out of the requested K5.2 billion.
In the last five years the department needed K22 billion to function efficiently, but government only released about K10 billion (45 percent).
Yet, the mandate of the department is to ensure the sustainable development, conservation and utilisation of forestry resources for the country’s socio-economic growth and development.
In a written response, the department’s director Clement Chilima said they are struggling to meet their set targets due to low funding.
The low funding comes at a time when the country is waging war against deforestation.
According to Chilima, over 75 percent of the funding is invested in protection and rehabilitation of forests in protected areas and on customary estates every year to improve forest cover.
Former Peter Mutharika administration allocated K5 billion for Malawi Youth Forest Restoration Programme in 2019/20 tree-planting season.
Meanwhile, experts say deforestation is Malawi’s ignored crisis that has the potential to slow down economic gains.
Professor Sosten Chiotha yesterday said poor funding towards the forestry sector is a case of misplaced priorities.
He said deforestation affects many sectors that are crucial in the development of the country, including agriculture and energy.
Environmental advocate Charles Mkoka agrees with Chiotha, saying the department was supposed to be among those getting the lion’s share from the national budget.