Zomba-Malosa and Liwonde forest reserves lose one million trees yearly due to deforestation, according to Machinga District forestry officer Paul Muhosha.
He said Machinga expects to plant two million seedlings this year as illegal charcoal production and illegal timber production are leading to increased deforestation in the reserves.
Zomba-Malosa Forest Reserve is about 2 800 square kilometres while Liwonde forest reserve is 24 351 square kilometres and both have water sources for the schemes.
To curb deforestation, the district forestry office carries out law enforcement involving the police and sometimes Liwonde National Park personnel confiscate charcoal, firewood, poles and timber from sellers and illegal producers.
The forestry office implemented a forest co-management scheme through a European Union (EU) funded Improved Forest Management for Sustainable Livelihood project which empowers communities around the reserves to sustainably manage forest blocks but deforestation has continued.
Over the years, many people have been arrested, convicted and sentenced after being found in possession of forest produce such as charcoal, firewood and timber without licence or permit contrary to Section 64 of the Forestry Act.
The Zomba-Malosa Forest Reserve has Chagwa and Lifani gravity fed water supply schemes while Liwonde Forest Reserve has Namikomia, Kawinga, Milala, Mangale, Chanyungu and Nkala schemes which supply water to thousands households, according to Machinga District water development officer, Steve Meja. n