Malawi plants over 360 million trees -Bingu

In its efforts to mitigate the destructive effects of climate change, Malawi has reportedly planted about 363 million trees across the country over the last seven years.

This was disclosed Wednesday by President Bingu wa Mutharika in Zomba when he launched the 2011-2012 National Tree Planting Season.

However, environmental experts feel the figure is far much below if compared to the demand for fuel wood in the country where just about 10 percent of the population has direct access to electricity.

File photo: Mutharika planting a tree

Mutharika said since taking over government in 2004, he has personally taken interest in encouraging Malawians to plant trees and out the 363 million planted about 240 million have survived.

“From 2004, my government has planted 363 million trees…240 million trees have survived so you can imagine that it is an inspiring and effective programme,” Mutharika told hundreds of people who gathered at Sekwele Primary School in the area of TA Mwambo.

The Malawi leader said the 240 million trees are covering an area of 123 000 hectares which was previously bare.

During the 2011-2012 Tree Planting Season, Malawi is expected to plant 60 million trees, just 2.8 million more than 57.2 million trees, planted during the 2010-2011 season, out of which about 65 percent survived, according to Nyuma Mughogho, Assistant Director of Forestry in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment.

Climate change

President Mutharika observed that just like in other countries, climate change has not spared the country and was creating untold tragedies to Malawians.

He reminded them that most of the disasters were as a result of harmful human activities being carried out such as unnecessary cutting down of trees.

“We all experience the damaging effects of climate change… That is why I want to remind you that every time you cut one tree, you are encouraging climate change, the same thing if you plant one tree you are discouraging climate change,” said Mutharika.

The president also said the importance of forests and trees in human welfare was increasingly recognized as such it was essential for every person to take a responsibility of conserving the trees by ensuring that every bare land is forested.

“Everyone knows the importance of forests and trees… They are a source of firewood, timber, wild fruits, bush meat, they also provide us pharmaceuticals. So they are very important in our livelihoods.

“From today, I want to ask you that for every tree you cut down plant three. I want in 10 years time where there are no trees we should have trees, especially along the river banks. This is not difficult to do, we don’t need aid from outside to do this even with zero budget we can do it,” urged Mutharika.

Conserve forests

Before the official launch, Mutharika planted two trees of mango and mmbawa at Mulawira village where he also toured a two-hectare village forest.

Malawi observes the Tree Planting Season from 15th December to 15 April of next year. Initially, Mutharika started with national forestry week, then change the following year to national forestry month before extending it to five months to become a season.

The theme for this year is “Conserve Forests and Trees; Mitigate Climate Change” which is exactly the same theme used during the 2009-2010 season.

The official launch of last season (2010-2011) was held at Manoro in Mzimba district while for 2009-2010 it was in Chiradzulu district in the area of TA Nkalo and Mutharika presided over both launches.

Apart from forests helping in maintaining air, water and soil quality, influencing biochemical processes and controlling soil erosion, among others, in Malawi the rural dwellers, who make up the majority of the population, rely largely on them for their daily basic needs in the form of fuelwood and other bush foods, construction materials, agricultural tools and medicinal plants.

And about 90 per cent of Malawi’s energy requirements is satisfied by wood fuels derived from natural and planted forests and trees on farms. However, statistics indicate that annually the country is losing over 100 million trees.

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