President Lazarus Chakwera says it is important that chiefs should take a pivotal role in environmental management.
Speaking when he presided over the first National Chief’s Forum on Natural Resources Management and Transition to Sustainable Agricultural and Livelihoods in Malawi in Lilongwe, Chakwera said chiefs are the backbone of behavior change as they engage with citizens in their areas.
Chakwera added that since chiefs are closer to the people and are respected in their areas, it is important that they take the lead in forest governance by enforcing rules to protect forest landscapes in their areas.
“Chiefs should help in curbing lawlessness by directly engaging citizens and facilitating behaviour change to ensure forest depletion is completely brought to an end,” he said.
Chakwera further said that government is geared to deal with environmental degradation and restore degraded landscape.
“I am convinced that with the support of chiefs, we will manage to reverse the sort of destruction that has seen the country lose 17 percent of forest cover in the past two decades.
“As government, we will collaboratively provide necessary support to all chieftaincy structures across the country as they undertake this commendable task in collaboration with development partners,” he said
Speaking at the event, Minister of Local Government, Unity and Culture Richard Chimwendo Banda said sidelining chiefs in decision making can retard development hence the need to involve them in the protection of natural resources in order to achieve maximum use of resources.
On the other hand, Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change Micheal Usi highlighted that his ministry will be working with chiefs through the forum to promote the production of briquettes and curb illegal charcoal production.