Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of the Roman Catholic’s Blantyre Diocese, has asked legislators to enact tough laws to deal with people caught in illegal cutting of trees to address the serious issue of deforestation the country is facing.
His Grace Msusa said this when he presided over a tree planting exercise that was organised by Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom), one of the Catholic Church’s development arm in Malawi, held at Michiru Mountain in Chilomoni Township in Blantyre.
“I urge our lawmakers to enact tough laws to deter people from wanton cutting of trees if we are to address deforestation,” he said. “We have to be serious with this because despite all efforts to reforest as we are doing today, people come back and cut them down once they regrow.
“Also bear in mind that each one of us has contributed towards deforestation through the charcoal we buy which encourage the tree poachers to continue cutting down trees. There is a need to find an alternative to charcoal.”
Present at the exercise were Senior Chiefs, Ntaja and Machinjiri as well as Chilomoni Group Village Headwoman, to whom Msusa asked to impress on their subjects to plant trees around their homes and gardens.
“You chiefs wield a lot of power and respect amongst your subjects. Whatever you tell them, they always follow. Please, inspire the people to replace the trees they cut down by planting two or more.
“Where there is idle land, they should plant trees which one day they shall harvest,” the Archbishop said.
Also present were pupils from Chilomoni Catholic Primary School and Nsusa also impressed on them to take one seedling and plant at their homes.
“It’s exciting and fun to watch a tree you planted grow into a huge tree. As you are planting impress on your parents the need to conserve our forests,” he said.
Member of Parliament for the area, Blantyre City West, Tarsizio Gowelo applauded the initiative by Cadecom, saying it was just some 10 years ago that Michiru Mountain was well covered by trees but now it is in sorry sight.
He blamed the forestry officials for laxity as well as conniving with the unscrupulous people to cut the trees especially during the night.
“I have reports that it’s the forestry officials who are also part of this syndicate. It must start with you by making sure the trees are protected,” he said.
The Catholic Church’s director of commissions Noel Tomoka said they have signed a five-year partnership with the Forestry Department that they be providing the tree seedlings and Cadecom will be mobilising people to plant them on Michiru Mountain.
He said they have put in place mechanisms to make sure they monitor the progress of the newly-planted trees and replace those that may die at early stages.
Tomoka said they target to plant 10,000 trees on 15 hectares that will cover the whole mountain in the five-year period.
He said they chose Michiru Mountain because it is their shrine where they hold The Way of the Cross and also that many of their church members visit the shrine to hold their own personal prayers.
“We invited the kids to impress on them that deforestation is evil and to tell them that when you cut down one tree, replace it with two or three. We also intend to develop a plan on how we can help the community surrounding the mountain so that they should not rely on cutting down trees for charcoal making,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :