People of Phalombe district have been warned that they risk a stiff punishment if they are found cutting down trees in the ‘manmade’ Sambadzukulu forest.
Traditional Authority Jenala made the warning on Friday in an interview with Malawi24 after the launch of the 2017/2018 tree planting season in the district at Mianga primary school ground.
Jenala advised chiefs who fall under him to take a leading role in protecting the eight year-old forest which was established under the initiative of the former head of state late Bingu Wa Mutharika.
“I have been telling my chiefs that they should tell their people that anyone found cutting down trees and setting fire in the forest shall be fined.
“Anyone found shall be required to save herself or himself by paying three healthy goats and take note that we don’t want the goats but our aim is to protect the forest,” said Jenala.
Forest Zone Manager for the Southern Region Cecelia Chauluka then reminded people in the district and across the country of the benefits of planting trees.
“Forests provide a lot of needs for the community, and for the agricultural purposes we have trees which help in improving fertility and those that reduce erosion and so many uses and it is very important as a nation to plant many trees,” said Chauluka.
She then commended people who are working tirelessly in caring for the trees in collaboration with the district’s council and some non-governmental organizations such as United Purpose (UP) who are pumping money in conserving the forest.
Meanwhile, people around Sambadzukulu Forest have been promised that they will be taught some economic activities that they can be doing in the forest.
Phalombe District Forestry Officer Eric Mbingwani revealed that his office will do what it can to lure some organizations to teach the communities income generating activities such as bee keeping.
“Our office is going to lobby other organizations that are involved in rural livelihood so that if the chance arises the bee keeping should be introduced including also making of cook-stoves,” Mbingwani told this publication.
The forestry officer then revealed that the district is targeting at least 80 percent of the planted trees this season to survive and he added that so far 750,000 trees have been planted out of 1,200,000 which are expected to be planted.
This year’s theme for tree planting season is restore forests, protect the environment. President Peter Mutharika officially launched the 2017/2018 tree planting season on 18th December 2017 in Salima district.