The Department of National Parks and Wildlife has described as a huge milestone the listing of Mulanje cedar and mkula into appendix two of the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
The Cites appendices list species that are afforded different levels of protection from over-exploitation.
Appendix II of the convention lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled to avoid utilisation that does not support their survival.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, Department of National Parks and Wildlife director Brighton Kumchedwa said the listing will contribute to conservation and management of the two tree species as their international trade will be regulated under the Cites Convention.
“Proposals for both mkula and Mulanje cedar were endorsed by scientists, which is a huge success to the country,” he said.
Kumchedwa said the listing of the two tree species in appendix two means that exporting mkula or Mulanje cedar will require export certificates which can only be granted upon advice from scientific authorities that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.
He said government will take appropriate measures to enforce the provisions of the convention.
Mulanje cedar which was declared as national tree in 1984, grows naturally only in Malawi at an altitude of 1 800 metres above sea level.
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines forestry adviser Clement Chilima observed that there has been a huge decline in the population of Mulanje Cedar in the country over the years due to international trade.
He argued that any further harvesting will make the species extinct. In 2014, Mulanje Mountain had 38 138 mature cedar trees but the population dropped to seven by 2017 and currently there is none.
Mkula is unique to central and southern Africa but its survival is threatened by illegal harvesting to feed markets in China and other Asian markets. Apart from the two tree species, Kumchedwa said Malawi has been certified as no longer a country of primary concern as a result of rampant poaching and illegal wildlife trade and is currently regarded as a star performer in the two areas.