Government through the Department of Forestry has engaged the services of the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) to help in protecting the Mulanje Mountain.
MDF has been given a go ahead by council members from both Phalombe and Mulanje districts which surround the mountain.
Speaking during a meeting held in Mulanje, Director for Forestry Department, Clement Chilima said illegal harvesting of timber and charcoal are among the things that are depleting more resources from the mountain making it lose its attraction which it had before hence the idea to involve MDF to bring back sanity in the management and conservation of the mountain.
He added that government had done the same in the Dzalanyama Range in Lilongwe and Chikangawa in Mzimba as one way of protecting the forest reserves which he described as source to valuable things like water.
“We have involved the MDF to make people comply with regulations in the management of forestry reserves though it is just on temporary measure as we did at Dzalanyama and Chikangawa forest reserves while we are working towards tangible solutions to the problem,” Chilima explained.
Chilima further said although a non –governmental organization like the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) was working towards protecting the mountain, still there was huge task considering the vastness of the area covered by the mountain hence engaging MDF in the course.
Speaking on behalf of the two districts, Member of Parliament for Phalombe East, Amos Mailosi welcomed MDF to protect the Mountain saying it was high time something was done and asked people surrounding the mountain to adhere to what the soldiers will be promoting because at the end of the day the people are the ones to benefit and not the soldiers who in this case are just partners in development.
In his remarks, Chief of Military Operations, Brigadier Paul Phiri said their coming has been well strategized to ensure that laws on the conservation of the Mountain are enforced.
Phiri stressed the need for people to understand that they are not coming as their enemies and asked them to partner with them to stop malpractices happening in the mountain.
“As you might be aware we are also working in Dzalanyama and Chikangawa and we have had several instances where our soldiers were in dispute with people in those areas because maybe they feel they are there to take away what belongs to them but that is not actually the case, we are here sorely to help in bringing back sanity in the protection of the mountain,” Phiri said.