Treeless Malawi by 2024?
Lilongwe — Experts have predicted that at the rate of deforestation that is taking place in the country, Malawi' off reserves will be depleted by the year 2024. Malawi loses up to 3.9 per cent of its forest cover every year, says Titus Sanza Zulu, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Assistant Director of Forestry, who was speaking at stakeholders' workshop.
"At present, the deforestation rate is at 3.9 per cent per year meaning that the country loses almost 1, 000 square kilometre of tree cover every year," he said.
Zulu observed that unless tree cover is restored the country faces a bleak future in its forest cover.
He said the country's economy being agro based and dependent on rain, the country's economy is also very vulnerable to climate change.
As such, Zulu said the benefits of restoring tree cover cannot be over emphasised since it can help in reducing effects of climate change, promote rainfall, provide fuel and diversify livelihoods.
However, government has lined up a number of projects that aim to reduce deforestation at the same time providing alternative sources of livelihood to people.
One of the projects that government has put in place is the Improved Forest Management for Sustainable Livelihood Support Program and Reduction of Deforestation, Degradation and Emission (REDD+).
According to the 2008 National Statistics Office (NSO) census results, over 84 per cent of Malawian households are in the rural area where firewood is the major fuel source.
"The importance of forest to Malawians cannot be over-emphasised; forests play a major role in people's social and economic activities," he said.
According to Zulu, forests bridges social and economic gaps in the life of Malawians.
"Forests are a source of income to some because they are involved in firewood and charcoal business while some of the cultural activities like traditional medicine, traditional dances like Ingoma among the Ngoni and Nyau dance among the Chewa," he said.
Zulu further explained that trees are important to the country because they take up carbon emission that come from greenhouses and reduce global warming.
BY TIWONGE NKHONJERA, 31 JULY 2013
Wilderness, South Africa