Ntchisi District Council is contemplating engaging the Malawi Defence Force in protecting its forest reserves which are under threat due to cutting trees for charcoal burning and firewood.
Speaking during the full council meeting on Tuesday, Chairperson for Ntchisi council Salikani Chikadza said he was worried with the rate at which the district was losing its forests.
He said the district had dense forests which now are turning into bare grounds despite having forest officers were there.
‘We wonder where the truck owners get the permit to load firewood and charcoal from our district. We feel the forest department is failing its job, otherwise we couldn’t lose our trees at the rate it is now. We may not have forests in the next two years, if we don’t act now,” Chikadza said.
He said the only option remaining was to involve the Malawi Defence Force to help in protecting the forests as it has been done in other areas like Dzalanyama, where it is working.
Member of Parliament for Ntchisi North East, Olipa Chimangeni, said she had witnessed forest officers taking part in charcoal business, which she said was very unfortunate.
“My house is close to Kaombe Forest Reserve and I was surprised to see a forestry officer asking me for transport, saying he had a hundred bags of charcoal that he wanted to take to town. They have let us down and action has to be taken. The officers can’t be trusted,” she remarked.
Ntchisi District Forest Officer (DFO), Victor Lusaka admitted that the district forests were under pressure from people who sneak into the forests to cut trees.
He said his office was doing everything possible to protect the forests but said their capacity was limited.
“We do patrols day and night, and we confiscate charcoal and firewood, but still the problem of deforestation continues. So we feel stakeholders at district level can help with some suggestions to rescue our forests,” the DFO said.
Lusaka conquered with the council on involving the MDF to protect the remaining forests.
Ntchisi has several forest reserves but the most affected is Ndirasadzu Forest Reserve which is 4 kilometres from Ntchisi boma.