The European Union (EU) has decried population growth, saying it is a major challenge that hampers efforts in sustainable forests management.
EU Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann made the remarks yesterday in response to a questionnaire on the progress of EU’s three-year co-funded forestry project to which it committed 85 percent of the K670 million total project package to improve forest management for sustainable livelihoods in Malawi.
The project, which was launched in 2015 and ends next year, is being implemented by World Vision Malawi and World Agroforestry Centre (Icraf) in Mzimba, Karonga, Chikwawa, Kasungu, Dedza and Ntchisi districts.
Said Gerrmann: “Population increase is exerting a heavy demand on forest products in terms of energy, building materials, agriculture expansion where there is conversion of forest land to farming land.
“If population growth is not checked, even with sound forest policies and sound implementation of these policies, the remaining forests will not contain the pressure exerted by the ever-growing population.”
He also hailed the project for reaching out to many farmers with different interventions aimed at empowering rural communities to manage forests in a way that provides them economic gains.
Added Gerrmann: “The project has implemented a number of interventions, including, among others, individual and communal woodlot establishment where 221 749 trees were planted, timber out-grower schemes where 51 600 plantation trees were planted.”
Icraf and WVM which are implementing partners for the project contributed 12 percent and 3 percent respectively to the total amount.
Apart from the WVM-Icraf implemented project, the EU also financed another forestry project implemented by Concern Universal targeting other districts. n