FDH Bank has partnered with Malawi Forestry Department in the environmental and natural resource conservation by adopting Chingale Hills Forest in Zomba through a sponsorship of K10 million per annum for its sustainability drive.
At the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Zomba District Council offices on Monday, FDH Bank's acting Managing Director George Chitera said the sponsorship is in line with the bank's sustainability drive, dubbed FDH Cares.
He said the adoption of Chingale Hills forest comes at the backdrop of various initiatives that FDH Bank Plc is engaged in under the banner 'Our Environment' sustainability pillar, which include committing to plant 1 million trees by 2024.
The commitment to plant 1 million trees by 2024 will be done through FDH Bank's staff members, partners, customers and various stakeholders in support of the World Economic Forum global restorative initiative to grow, restore and conserve 1 trillion trees around the world to restore biodiversity and help fight climate change.
The bank also manages a 'Be Green Smart Tree Planting' season initiative in which its staff members plant and nurture 5 trees each in partnerships with NGOs and also sponsors Green Café Program on Zodiak Broadcasting Station.
FDH Bank also sponsors annual Green Awards for best media reporting on environmental conservation facilitated by Association of Environmental Journalists.
"FDH Bank Plc recognizes the importance of a green environment and as a responsible corporate citizen it has reinforced its commitment to champion a sustainable green environment that will foster the development of the country and nurture a resilient country against various environmental and economic forces," Chitera said.
He applauded the role the Department of Forestry and other key stakeholders are playing in protecting and nurturing the environment in Malawi and supporting all global initiatives.
"We are, therefore, truly delighted to sign this memorandum of understanding today and we look forward to a working relationship that will help nurture a green Malawi."
Quoting Chapter One of the Holy Bible, Chitera said God made Man to be dominion of the world he created and that "He still calls on us to take care of everything that sorrounds us and we are answering that call from God".
Director of Forestry, Dr. Clement Chilima said under the reforms being undertaken in all government ministries and departments, the Ministry of Forest & Natural Resources decided to engage with stakeholders by inviting them to play their role in addressing "serious deforestation the country is facing".
"From the results of a survey that the Ministry of Forest & Natural Resources conduct some three years ago, it was determined that over 9 million hectares of land has been degraded and it is in our plans that by 2030 we should restore 4.5 million hectares -- which is half of it.
"We cannot do it all alone -- we need stakeholders to join join in the initiative and thus we applaud FDH Bank by being the first to respond to our appeal for support which we advertised in the media.
"It's a big battle we are facing ahead of us because the public continues to wantonly cut down trees for charcoal production and in this initiative we are involving traditional leaders to impress on their community subjects to positively participate."
Thus he acknowledged the presence of Senior Chief Mlumbe and Sub Traditional Authority Nkapita, in whose jurisdiction lies FDH Bank's Chingale Hills Forest environmental sustainability drive.
He said it was an honour that FDH Bank is the first to respond to their call for private stakeholders support while appealing to the rest of the corporate world to join the initiative to restore and bring back natural beauty that complements the country's motto of 'The Warm Heart of Africa'.
He impressed on the public that the tree planting season would now be known as the 'forestry season', saying environmental conservation is not just about replacing trees but also through its proper management.
"Our forests and the rest of our environment sorroundings can restore by themselves by simply managing them without even planting trees -- thus our call to the private sector and the communities to adopt and manage our forests," he said.
In his remarks Zomba District Commissioner, Dr. Smart Gwedemula applauded FDH Bank for being a caring corporate partner and prayed for a lasting relationship with the district in various development areas that might need stakeholders' intervention.