Member of Parliament (MP) for Mangochi West, Geoffrey Mereka Chiwondo has urged communities in the district to be vigilant in fighting deforestation for the country to witness meaningful change.
Chiwondo pointed out that communities have to play a very active role in restoring the environment by among other things, taking part in tree planting and allowing the regeneration of forests.
The legislator was speaking on Saturday at Mbapi Village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Nankumba in Mangochi during the district launch of the tree planting season with support from Malawi Lake Basin Programme (MLBP).
Chiwondo who is also a member of the parliamentary committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change said the launch held in the area was a commitment by the district and its partners to address dwindling environmental standards.
"From today onwards, everyone should be a guard of another. Remember fire will always go where there are patches of bush. Other areas in the district and indeed in the country don't have the privilege of such mountains well covered with trees as it is here," he said.
The parliamentarian said it was his wish to have all bare grounds regenerated at the end of ten years.
However, Chiwondo appealed to the Forestry Department to introduce some incentives to be given to communities which had demonstrated a high sense of ownership of natural resources and for the positive contribution in conserving the same.
"Taking care of the environment is not supposed to be the responsibility of MLBP alone.
We all need to take full control of the undertaking to ensure the trees are restored and protected," added the legislator.
District Community Development Officer (DCDO), Anthony Zimba representing the DC encouraged people to make tree planting an on-going initiative.
He said climate change effects being experienced in recent past years is as a result of deforestation hence the need to look at tree planting critically.
Zimba, thanked MLBP for complementing government in its development programmes, assuring that the council will continue creating an amiable environment for civil society organizations to operate in.
MLBP also supported a similar activity last year in the area of T/A Chimwala.
MLBP Natural Resources Management Coordinator, Richard Bwanali said the organization will continue supporting natural resource conservation initiatives because such efforts remain at the heart of its programmes.
"Studies have shown that any other activity cannot thrive when the environment has been degraded. For example, agricultural production may not be possible without good rains. Soil erosion may also be rampant when the environment has been destroyed let alone watersheds," Bwanali noted.
He said two activities remain key in protecting the environment of; tree planting and managing existing forests.
In his remarks, Senior Chief Nankumba said the importance of trees could not be overemphasized advising his subjects to take good care of the trees the plant.
He pledged to take personal responsibility in ensuring the trees planted grow to their fullest potential.
This year's national tree planting season was launched on January 25, 2017 at Kalambo Primary School ground in Lilongwe by President Arthur Peter Mutharika under the theme: 'Malawi forests - rooted in the past and branching into the future.'