Lilongwe — pic courtesy of Forestry Dept.
The Department of Forestry says the annual deforestation rate has decreased to 1.6 from 2.6 percent as established from the recent National Forest Inventory research conducted in 2018 through the Perform Project.
Speaking in an interview on Friday with Malawi News Agency (Mana), Department of Forestry Deputy Director, Teddie Kamoto said the reduction follows a number of measures that the government is implementing in order to conserve the environment.
"These measures include increased law enforcement activities like the deployment of military personnel into major forests to guard against illegal loggers, amplified tree planting exercises by several stakeholders and raised awareness campaigns," Kamoto said.
He added: "The department has also developed other strategies aimed at increasing forest cover. These include National Forest Restoration, Charcoal and Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) strategies. All these strategies are available for public, private and civil society to develop projects and source finances for their implementation."
According to a report issued in 2018 by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Malawi has the highest rate of deforestation.
"Malawi has the highest rate of deforestation in the SADC region. Organized forest crimes represent another significant threat to the national resources of the country," reads the report.
Thomson Reuters Foundation also reported in 2017 that "Malawi government estimates that the country's 3.4 million hectares (8.4 million acres) of predominantly natural forests are being depleted at a rate of 1.8 to 2.6 percent annually, largely for charcoal production."
Meanwhile, the Department of Forestry is working on the Forestry Act Amendment Bill which is yet to be approved by cabinet.
The priority is to amend sections that provide for fines and penalties to illegal loggers and charcoal burners.
Other sections under amendment include concession agreements, co-management agreements and public access to information, among others.