Illegal timber producers in Viphya Plantation have allegedly poisoned 134 000 tree seedlings worth K40 million.
According to Raiply Malawi forestry manager Nathaniel Nthala, the seedlings at Champhoyo Nursery garden would have covered 84 hectares in the hugely deforested plantation.
“On January 4, we found that some seedlings, especially eucalyptus, were wilting. We reported the matter to the Forestry Department and Forestry Research Institute of Malawi (Frim) came to get samples for testing,” he said on Thursday.
Nthala suspects disgruntled loggers and sawyers to have sprayed poisonous chemical on the tree nursery.
“This is sabotage. This criminal act is similar to what happened last year at Chauteka Nursery where Frim confirmed that the seedlings were destroyed using toxic chemicals,” he said.
The incident forced Raiply to shift its nursery to Champhoyo.
The company has been confiscating equipment from illegal sawyers captured in its concession area.
“It could be an act of retaliation by people who feel they are being victimised,” said Nthala.
The destruction has affected Raiply’s tree-planting cycle.
Police in Mzimba have made no arrests since the Chauteka incident last year.
Mzimba district commissioner Thomas Chirwa visited Champhoyo Thursday.
“I am disappointed. What I have seen is very deplorable. I sympathise with Raiply,” he said.
Chirwa said M’mbelwa District Council would work with chiefs and the police to track down the suspects.