Chakwera urges chiefs to champion restoration of order in forest management

President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera on Thursday launched Call to Action on the Management of Trees and Forests in Malawi, with an appeal to traditional authorities to champion restoration of order and arrest of lawlessness in forest management.

Speaking at the Chiefs’ Forum in Lilongwe, President Chakwera emphasized that traditional leadership is vital for forest governance and for ensuring the enforcement of the mechanisms, processes, institutions, rules and regulations for sustainable forest management.

He said he was excited to see that Malawian Chiefs have decided to call for an end to the depletion of our natural resources, trees and forests in particular, and that you want to take a leading role in these matters.

“I am pleased that Malawian Chiefs, who are our parents, are committed to the restoration of  order and the arrest of lawlessness in forest management. Chiefs are agents of development because they are the link between government and the citizens. As such, my government recognizes the important role that you Chiefs play in the management of forests and natural resources in this country. It is for this reason that my government has placed chiefs as key stakeholders at the Centre of all technical and governance blue prints as highlighted in policy documents and strategies in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change,” said the President.

Chakwera stated that the purpose of the Chiefs’ Forum is therefore to enhance their involvement and leadership in the management of land, forests and natural resources.

Chakwera acknowledges the importance of traditional leaders- pic by Carol Mkandawire

He thanked the traditional leaders for participating in the two-day training, which was organized to build a consensus on how to strengthen their role and participation in the management of trees and forests in this country and that you have gone further to develop an agreement with the government on how you’re going to fulfil this agenda.

“I am very optimistic that this call to action, coupled with the powerful voice that you possess and the respect you command among the people, you will be able to implement and fulfil this noble task. It is self-evident that our lives as people and as a society depend on the natural environment for sustenance and survival. The environment gives us the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the medicine we take, the light by which we see, the beauty we enjoy, and much much more,” narrated Chakwera.

He added, “But we must never forget that our relationship with nature is not one-sided, where all we do is take and consume. God placed us at the centre of the natural world, at the heart of his Garden if you will, with strict and clear instructions for us to work on the environment to make it more fruitful and productive. And within the context of Malawi, making the environment more productive and healthy to sustain our way of life cannot be accomplished without the leadership of our Chiefs, who are the custodians of our way of life.”

Paramount Chief Lundu signs the call for Action – Pic By Carolyn Mkandawire

While lamenting the amount of damage and destruction made to the natural forests and the environment, President Chakwera said his government is determined to reverse the situation.

At this point, he called for mindset and behavioural change among chiefs and communities for the country to achieve its aspirations.

“Every Malawian and resident needs to urgently change attitudes and behaviour. As a country, we need to increase the number of healthy trees and forests and restore the landscape we have degraded and deforested.  Lawlessness and corruption in forest management must be stopped, and it cannot be stopped by the government alone. We need our Chiefs to help cultivate a responsible and engaged citizenry that commits to taking care of the land and forests,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Chakwera has thanked the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and GIZ through the Alliance for Restoration of Ecosystem in Africa (AREECA) project, which contributed to the successful organization of the important function.

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