Malawi expects to plant 60 million trees—four for each of its 15 million citizens—in a four-month forestry campaign launched today by President Peter Mutharika.
The 2015/16 National Forestry Season launched at Masasa CCAP Primary School Ground, in Ntcheu is part of efforts aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of managing the nation’s forests.
This year’s theme is Arrest Deforestation – Plant Trees and Conserve Forests.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka the campaign is part of governments’ robust programme of afforestation to mitigate against the effects of climate change and restore Malawi’s forest cover.
Besides urging people to plant 12 tree-seedlings during this season, Msaka announced that to protect forests government will from this month deploy soldiers from the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) to deal with charcoal producers and indigenous timber traders.
He said: “From this month [January], soldiers, with guns, will be moving around the country to deal with people burning and selling charcoal, do not say I did not warn you.”
Msaka then appealed to traditional leaders to encourage people to develop the habit of growing trees along river banks and around their homes to serve as windbreaks for houses against hailstorms and strong winds.
On his part, President Mutharika pleaded with Malawians to plant more trees and replenish forests, warning that continued neglect of the environment will only wipe ‘us all out of existence.’
Said Mutharika: “Mankind is paying tragic consequences everywhere. The great catastrophe of floods that nearly wiped Malawi from the face of the earth last year is the tragedy of climate change. That is the cost of destroying our environment.
“The loss of life and property, the floods, droughts, erratic rains, hunger, and the emergence of strange diseases, is all the rebellion of nature against man. And we have all seen how natural disaster can sabotage and frustrate our agro-based economy and cause the suffering of many souls.”
Malawi is recovering from devastitating flood in January 2015, that affected 15 of the country’s 28 districts, killing 106 people, while some 172 are reported missing.
The floods also damaged property and public infrastructure valued at $494 million (about K326 billion) and washed away 64 000 hectares of crops nationwide.