The wanton harvesting of trees in Viphya Plantation, widely known as Chikangawa Forest, has reached a new low with timber makers wiping out tender trees.
Forestry officials say pines take not less than 30 years to be ready for timber making, but trees as young as nine years old are being felled by loggers and sawyers as the depletion of the forest worsens.
The devastation is worse around Chikangawa where swathes of eight-year-old trees near the epic Elephant Rock and a 12-year plot at Gwayi have been destroyed.
The massive destruction of fledging trees worsens the disruption of a harvesting-reforestation cycle envisioned by the fathers of the forest, assistant plantation manager Adam Jason said.
The trend largely involves villagers and unscrupulous traders who fell the trees here and there, carting the logs to their homesteads or Mzuzu where sawyers with heavy machines churn out timber day and night.
When The Nation visited the forest, the unscrupulous traders had blocked the road with randomly felled trees with fresh leaves to keep away security agents.
“The major problem is they steal the trees at night and in areas where security personnel is out of sight,” Jason said.
The worst hit are trees situated in Raiply Malawi concession area which measures 20 000 hectares.
Raiply factory manager Meher Prasad decried that the nightly raids will annihilate the forest if government does not weigh in to stop it.
Poor harvesting practices conspire with summer fires and a shambolic replanting drive to strip the continent’s largest manmade forest of trees. n