15 April 2015

Malawi Loses Nearly 200 Square Miles of Forest Annually

Lilongwe — Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Dr Allan Chiyembekeza has revealed that Malawi loses nearly 200 square miles of its forest and this translates into a deforestation rate of 2.8 percent annually.

The Minister said this on Tuesday when he was addressing the audience, during the Southern African Beating Famine conference, in Lilongwe.

Chiyembekeza added that the number of the square miles lost annually is the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and this is according to the Southern African Development community (SADC).

"Malawi lost nearly 13 percent of its total forest cover due to fuel wood collection as well as expansion of the agricultural land. The loss of primary forest since 1990 is about 198 thousand hectares," he explained.

Dr Chiyembekeza added that many households in the rural areas of Malawi consider charcoal as their only source of income and this has resulted into complete deforestation of some forest.

"Indeed many solutions are needed to avert the extent of deforestation in all countries of the Sub-Saharan region," he said.

The aim of the conference was to provide more information on the impact of climate change and highlight how widespread land degradation is in the SADC region and especially in the face of climate change and how it could affect food security in the region.

On this note he commended the initiative called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) of trees.

He said the initiative is an indigenous movement based on tradition and observation, it is gaining momentum, regenerating millions of trees across the landscape.

"The FMNR is a home grown solution that has potential to put us back onto a sustainable path towards food security and economic growth," he said.

Chiyembekeza however said that efforts to avert the problem cannot be achieved without adequate human, technical and financial support.

He therefore called upon all stakeholders and development partners to embrace the FMNR in their various initiatives.

"My government will render the required support to all communities implementing the FMNR initiative, and it will work with existing community structures, such as village natural resources management committees and they will be strengthened for proper management of natural resources," he explained.

According to reports the Farmer managed natural generation has proven to be a rapid, low cost and easily replicated approach to restoring and improving agricultural forestry and pasture lands.

The conference is being held from the 14th to 17th April and among other things the conference will share insight from surveys done in Malawi on FMNR to prompt a discussion about ways to accelerate the widespread adoption of these methods that help in preserving trees.

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