Minister calls for community engagement to save environment

Malawi Environment

Minister of Tourism, Vera Kamtukule, has emphasized on the need for community engagement to save Michiru Nature Sanctuary in Blantyre which has experienced deforestation at an alarming rate by charcoal production and other human induced environmentally unfriendly activities despite government’s efforts to save the sanctuary.

She was speaking Friday when the toured the sanctuary.

The minister observed vandalism of the sanctuary property and hence the need for engagement to save the 12 square kilometre nature sanctuary and its property in order to bring it to its lost glory of being a good tourist destination.

She said despite interventions put in place to preserve the sanctuary, to the extent of arresting those that depleted the forest, the malpractice continues to worsen every day. She said it is now time to use other approaches.

“I am very annoyed that we have come to these levels of devastation; a place that used to be beautiful with natural indigenous trees is being depleted. We have used the law but things have not changed and it means something is missing and that thing is community engagement.

“We need to focus on community sensitisation so that community members should understand that if cutting down of trees is bringing food on their tables, they must think about the future of their children and the next generation which will experience adverse climate change challenges due to today’s behavior,” Kamtukule said.

In his remarks, District Commissioner for Blantyre, Alex Mdooko, said urbanisation has led to increased charcoal production and cutting down of trees to burn bricks for building houses in Blantyre City and surrounding areas.

He challenged the Ministry of Tourism to promote eco-tourism activities at the sanctuary and ensure that the surrounding communities benefit from such initiatives which will motivate them to take part in preserving the sanctuary.

Senior Chief Kuntaja acknowledged that deforestation is happening in the area but said that people that indulge in the malpractice come from neighboring districts other than Blantyre district.

He, therefore, promised to join hands with fellow community leaders to address the situation which he described as worrisome to citizens of Blantyre that have protected Michiru Mountain trees since 1930s when it became a protected area.

Reported by Chilungamo Missi