Last November rangers in Malawi’s Lengwe National Park arrested 35 illegal loggers with the park boundaries as they felled timber with a half-million dollars worth of equipment brought in via illegal road from neighbouring Mozambique.
Satellite images suggest about a million protected mopane trees had been cut in just over a year in the area where the group was working – a loss valued at about $37 million in court depositions.
Nkula Water Users Association (WUA) has expressed concern over wanton cutting down of trees in Machinga Forest.
Nkula WUA acting manager Wasili Akimu said the association gets water from gravity-fed schemes in the forest reserves, which are currently under heavy deforestation, leading to the drying up of most rivers.
“This is affecting the association’s operations since we also fail to collect money that people pay for accessing the water; hence, limiting our economic development,” he said.
Government has introduced irrigation farming in South Rukuru Valley in Rumphi as an alternative source of income to charcoal making. According to district forestry officer Gift Nyirenda, charcoal makers are wiping out trees along the banks of one of the inlets of Lake Malawi. "We have opened the schemes between Phwezi and Bole to provide a substitute to charcoal makers. I am happy that we are making progress in conserving the environment in the area, he said. The district is home to 50 village forests managed by communities.
Agricultural Extension Development Coordinator (AEDC) for Masaula Extension Planning Area (EPA) Cain Sankhulani has called on communities in Chingale, Zomba to protect natural resources, saying the situation in the area is worrisome. Sankhulani said this last Saturday, during a nutrition and environmental awareness open day which took place at Chikungwa Primary School in the district.
"Conforz Plantations Limited in Thyolo has decried the loss of trees at its woodlot as an economic loss to the company. The company grows trees such us blue gum and pine as fuel wood for running its tea factory boilers, production of feed meal as well as supplying heat to the company's poultly division."
Blantyre district forestrz officer Geoffrey Kanyerere: "I am surprised how this huge truck managed to pass through all the roadblocks to Blantyre. But we commend some well-wishers who tipped us. This is our nation and we need to take forest degradation as a national issue not forestrz issue".
Principal group village head Yimbe of Senior Chief Mwadzama in Nkhotakota: "Having been banned from Dzalanyama Forest Reserve, charcoal producers have now turned in our area. But we cannot sit back and watch our forests being destroyed by these people".