The Shire River Basin Management Programme (SRBMP) has hailed the support it is receiving from communities around Shire River towards its reforestation project.
The project is aimed at reversing environmental degradation on the banks and upstream of the river.
Deputy Director of Forestry who is also Technical Team Member for the SRBMP, Stella Gama, was speaking on Thursday in the area of Traditional Authority Kunthembwe in Blantyre during a tree planting exercise organized by the Blantyre District Council.
She said under the catchment management plan, communities have developed village level action plans which have empowered them to manage forests on customary land, practice soil erosion control measures on their gardens and establish irrigation schemes.
According to Gama, communities also conduct small income generating activities to keep themselves away from activities such as charcoal burning and selling which has contributed much to soil degradation in the Shire river catchment area.
“Environmental degradation has also led to low agricultural production which has resulted to an increase in poverty levels forcing people to follow unsuitable forest utilization practices by cutting down trees unsustainably for charcoal, timber firewood and put on the market for survival,” she said.
In his remarks, T/A Kunthembwe hailed SRBMP for supporting the initiative in his area, saying the number of people indulging in charcoal trade is reducing.
Kunthembwe also hailed the relations with forestry officers in the area which has resulted into more trees being planted in the area.
In his remarks, District Forestry Officer for Blantyre Geoffrey Kanyerere said so far the council has planted over 1 million trees.
The council plans to plant 2 million trees during this year’s reforestation season which ends on March 15.