The Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has said Malawi is losing 379 square kilometres (km²) of forest land every year due to poor land use practices.
The ministry’s director of natural resources Stella Gama said this during a tree planting exercise organised by the faculty of Natural Resources at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) at Bunda Campus on Wednesday.
She said: “According to a 2017 study conducted by the Forestry Department, the country is losing 1.6 percent of forest land every year. The total forest land is 23 677 km² and this includes low density forest areas.”
At this rate, Malawi will have no trees by 2079 if no efforts are made to replace the trees.
Gama said 85 percent of Malawi’s population, which is currently estimated at 17.6 million, depends on trees and forest resources for livelihood yet the same people are directly involved in destroying the trees.
“People are now opening gardens inside forest lands and mountains, some are rooted into charcoal burning while others cut trees for firewood and yet they don’t bother to replace them. This will one day leave us on a bare land,” she said.
Natural Resources College (NRC) campus director Moses Chinyama said trees play an important role in life hence the need to plant more.
“Here at Luanar, we plant trees every year because we know how important trees are in life. We use the forest to train our forestry students but the communities out there need them for many things such as firewood, food and building materials,” he said.
Chinyama said, Luanar organised a unique function this year by planting assorted trees of indigenous species to demonstrate how such trees are important to human beings.