A Dutch trade company- IDH has partnered with Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) in addressing deforestation in Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve under two months ‘Landscape Management Project’.
For two weeks now, IDH and MMCT have been supporting tree planting activities in the mountain close to Mbewa and Gibisani villages.
The two partners said deforestation in the forest reserve has impacted negatively on both subsistence and commercial farming as evidenced by low food and cash harvests like maize and tea.
IDH Country Representative for Malawi, Daisy Kambalame, said deforestation in the mountain has impacted negatively on tea farming hence its support to the reforestation exercise.
“Even Mulanje as a district has lodges, banks, utility bodies and other big shops and the district’s economy is $ 18 million and if the mountain is not sustainable that can lead to devastation and we therefore need to work in coordination in conserving the mountain’s environment for the sustainability of the district’s economy,” said Kambalame.
MMCT Programs Officer Responsible Forest Co-Management and Sustainable Livelihoods, Moffat Kayembe, said there has been massive degradation in the mountain area close to Mbewa and Gibisani villages which prompted embarking on the initiative on their landscapes.
“We are promoting usual tree planting exercises, community-based forest patrolling, fire management, capacity building and training and also support the community in developing forest bylaws,” said Kayembe.
Councilor Innocent Kaliati who is vice chairperson of Mulanje District Council has since appealed to the villagers to jealously guard the trees they are planting.
“I do not think we need to rely on MDF for protection of our mountain. It is our own hidden treasure and we as citizens of Mulanje need to protect it and not anyone else,” said Councilor Kaliati.
At least 50, 000 tree seedlings are expected to be planted on a 50-hectare area close to the two villages by the end of this month and the project which started in February will cost 21, 000 Euros.