The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources has expressed concern over the concession agreement between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Raiply Malawi saying the agreement is not good for the management of the Viphya Plantation.
Chairperson of the Committee, Welani Chilenga, expressed the concern on Saturday during a meeting between the committee and the Ministry in Lilongwe which was organized by Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC) aimed at reviewing the conditions that are stipulated in the draft concession agreements for Viphya Plantation.
The meeting was held as the ministry plans to sign a new concession agreement for the management of Viphya Plantation with Raiply Malawi Limited.
The ministry also plans to sign a concession agreement with the Reformed Timber Millers Union (RTMU).
“The Timber Millers agreement is acceptable but the agreement with Raiply says third parties should be allowed to enter into the forest and cut woods which is not good for the management of the plantation as it may lead to its depletion,” he said
He added that the committee has asked the ministry to re-draft the third party clause.
Chilenga said the ministry was supposed to engage the committee in the concessions agreements so that they can be aware of them.
In the agreement with Timber Millers, Government says it wishes to manage industrial plantations to ensure sustainable supply of timber, poles and other forest products for the benefit of the nation, and RTMU will benefit from the plantation through sustainable harvesting of mature trees.
In his remarks, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and mining, Patrick Matanda, said they included the third party because they wanted the plantation to benefit people living in that area.
He said the third party will be a regulated way of people getting into the forest to harvest the trees so that the community members should not just get into the forest without proper procedures which the ministry thinks will preserve the forest.