26 June 2000

Malawi: Subsistence Farming Depletes Malawi's Forests

BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) — Malawi has the highest rate of deforestation in the 14-member Southern Africa Development Community region.

Ironically, war-torn Angola has the lowest.

Malawi's deputy director of forestry, Paulos Mwale, has told PANA that the country's deforestation rate is over 1.8 percent against the average 0.2 per cent in most SADC member states.

Mwale, who is member of the SADC forestry sector technical co-ordination unit, said Malawi's high rate of deforestation is due to over-dependence on subsistence agriculture whereby large tracts of land are cleared for farming.

In the long run this practice depletes soil fertility, he said.

"Population boom also plays a factor in Malawi's high rate of deforestation," he added.

At least 50,000 hectares of Malawi's forests are cleared every year and foresters say this is very high rate natural resource consumption.

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