Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka has commended Malawi Defence Force (MDF) for bringing sanity to Dzalanyama Forest Reserve in Lilongwe, where charcoal makers threatened to wipe out trees.
Speaking in an interview in Lilongwe last week, Msaka said the success story at Dzalanyama will be used as a model for protecting all forest reserves in the country.
Said the minister: “What the MDF is doing at Dzalanyama is very commendable. I have received reports that there is sanity now, but we will now train our own forest rangers in how to use guns to protect trees in the 87 forests across the country because it is not sustainable to maintain the soldiers there.”
Msaka said all game rangers who will be trained to use the guns will undergo a vetting process to ensure that they are responsible in the use of firearms.
He said: “We do not want a scenario whereby guns are used irresponsibly; hence, the need for a stringent and strict vetting processes. We believe, by carrying guns, the rangers will be empowered to deal with charcoal vendors who are sometimes armed to the teeth.”
He, however, said government will continue using soldiers from Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu to conduct routine inspections in Chikangawa Forest in Mzimba.
Dzalanyama is the catchment area for two strategic Kamuzu dams (one and two), which are sources of water for Lilongwe City and other surrounding areas.