Written by: Paulina Chiyombo
Karonga District Forestry Office says Covid-19 has affected plans to plant 1.5 million trees during this year’s tree planting season.
In an interview, Chirwa said Covid-19 preventive measures the presidential taskforce on Covid-19 introduced prevented people to gather to support the initiative which President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera launched in Nkhatabay December last year.
“It is true Covid-19 has affected us since there was some restrictions on gathering which means we had few people to work with, few people have masks and lack of funds since we use public transport to attend such,” said Chirwa
Chirwa, however, said that with the help of clubs, schools NGOS, chiefs and MPs in constituencies they have so far managed to plant 1.2 million trees in the 5 constituency remaining with Nyungwe in the district.
“Corona is not the only challenge but also the communities, but we always do ongoing civic education on the importance of trees. Now we have the forest act that was revised and surely the law will take its course,” said Chirwa.
Commenting on the same, Mathews Malata, Interim Leader Movement for Environmental Action (MEA), commended the forest department for managing to plant trees amid the pandemic. He also advised the government on crisis management as one way of overcoming such challenges.
He said: “Even though the target number of tree to be planted in Malawi this year was 60 million but so far they have grown above 33 million which is not so bad but it’s likely to meet the target.”
Malata added the pandemic has not only affected the 2020-2021 planting season but also it also affected the 2019-2020 program since companies and NGOs through their initiatives are focusing much on funding Covid-19 response.
“We have a lot of work to do, as we are planting some are destroying. We have to manage the existing protection areas either by managing the shoots, natural regeneration and also replanting if we can do that is the treasure for the country ” said Malata.
Speaking on the issue, Senior Chief Kalonga said the forestry office is no longer involved in tree planting as it used to do in the past years.
“In the past years the forestry could give us trees through chiefs but now they just involve NGOs, schools. I once raised a concern on how we are going to exercise in the communities in planting tree program which has not been looked into up to now. Through my initiative, I just encourage my people to plant trees on their own,” said Kalonga.
Malawi as a country has so far 9 million forest hectors of which 2 million is fully covered while 7 million hectors is not in good shape. The government’s goal is that by 2030 the 7 million hectares should be covered.