JB launches Malawi tree planting season; Urges citizens to plant more trees

President Joyce Banda on Saturday said it is everyone’s responsibility to plant trees to mitigate the impact of climate change that has had adverse effects on people’s lives.

President Banda said this during the launch of 2012/2013 national tree planting season at Kasinjeni village along the river banks of Dwangwa in Kasungu.

The President said forests are a livelihood to the people of this country as they provide communities with fuel, food, materials for construction, fertility and help prevent soil erosion as well as floods.

She expressed concern that the country has over the recent years continued to lose forests to deforestation a development she said has significantly impacted on reduced agricultural productivity.

“I cannot overstate the importance of national forestry season in Malawi. When I look back at the development of our country in recent years I see more babies and less trees; we all know that that is not sustainable,” said Banda.

President Banda planting M’bawa tree

She said deforestation has also influenced siltation of rivers leading to flooding in many parts of the country especially the shire valley and lakeshore areas; saying this has, in turn, resulted in reduced breeding ground for fish hence less fish production.

“The siltation of rivers and lakes in particular has also led to reduced fish production over the years because of reduction of fish breeding grounds.

“This has an adverse impact on our people’s livelihoods particularly fishermen. The reduction in fish production has significantly impacted on financial capital and nutrition for fish dependent communities,” she explained.

The President also said unsustainable use of forest goods and services, according to a 2010 comprehensive economic study, has regrettably cost the country’s economy USS$93 million (about K33 billion). She said climate change is real and that its impacts are felt by everyone irrespective of gender, socio economic status and race.

She explained that the country’s forests conservation is one of the most important ways of mitigating effects of climate change hence people should commit to national crusade of planting more trees in their respective communities.

President Banda, however, said preventing and reversing deforestation in Malawi is not a straight forward issue as most people in the country do not have alternative sources of fuel.

“Over 90 percent depend on wood fuels for cooking and heating. It is against such background that the country must begin looking at alternatives rather than depending on forests for fuel,” she said.

On her part Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management, Jennifer Deborah Chilunga disclosed that deforestation in the country is at 2.8 percent; a development she described as worrisome.

The 2012/2013 national forestry season will run from December 15, 2012 to April 2013 under the theme “Protect and plant trees on bare hills and along riverines”. This season the country is expected to plant about 60 million trees.

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