Department of Forestry has launched Forestry laws in Mangochi with a call for Malawians to take a leading role in conserving forest reserves.
The launch of the forestry laws saw Principal Forestry Officer in the Department of Forestry Victor Lusaka, Director for Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources for Mangochi, Enford Kanyimbo and Senior Chief Chowe signing a Memorandum of Understanding for proper operationalization of the laws.
Speaking on Thursday during the launch of the laws at Malindi in the area Senior Chief Chowe in the district, Lusaka said the five-year Forestry laws are vital in proper management of forests in a way that they empower communities to be active agents in conserving and protecting forest reserves.
“We hold a solid belief that if communities are active in protecting and conserving forests, cases of charcoal burning, poaching, reckless cutting down of trees and other forest-related malpractices which are rampant in the country will be brought to halt, hence the launch of the forestry laws, “ said Lusaka.
He then advised chiefs and block leaders surrounding Namizimu and Phirilongwe Forest Reserves in the district to ensure that no one is above the law, saying that any person who contravenes the laws need to be brought to book.
Kanyimbo said conservation of the forests is critical in lessening the occurrence of natural disasters.
“Conservation of forests by people in Mangochi is paramount in protecting natural resources found in forest reserves, water species found in Shire River, Lake Malombe and Lake Malawi as well as prevention of occurrence of natural disasters like floods in the district and in the Shire Valley, “said Kanyimbo.
In his remarks, Senior Chief Chowe warned his subordinates against receiving bribes from people so that they cut trees in forest reserves, saying if anyone would be found committing such a crime, he or she will be given stiff punishment even being expelled from his area.
“traditional leaders are supposed to be exemplary to the public, as such, our steadfastness in conserving the environment is critical in motivating people to follow suit.
“If we as leaders are on the forefront of breaking these laws, our subjects will follow suit and this is disastrous in conservation and protection of the forests,” said Chowe.
The five -year forestry laws have been formulated with funding from Malawi Watershed Service Project.