Raiply Malawi Limited used New Year celebrations at Mtangatanga school ground in Mzuzu to sensitise communities around Viphya Plantation to the importance of protecting forests.
On Tuesday, the company, which started operations in March 1999 following the purchase of Viply as part of government’s privatisation programme, invited surrounding communities to a New Year celebration.
Speaking during the event, Raiply forestry manager Nathaniel Nthala encouraged people to be on the lookout for those who set bush fires and poison tree seedlings in plantations.
He said the company has done many things for the community, such as constructing school blocks, laboratory, sponsoring sports activities, among others; hence, the need to protect the forest so that development can continue.
The feat included netball and football bonanzas, traditional dances as well as running races, whose winners got various cash prizes.
A teacher at Mtangatanga Primary School, Geophrey Kaonga, urged the company to continue assisting communities in various sectors.
During the past 17 seasons since takeover in 1999, an average of 25 fire incidents have been recorded each season, resulting in 1 800 hactares being affected, according to Nthala.
Last year, the forest lost 900 hectares of land to bushfires, which Nthala said was unfortunate.