“Malawi is losing forest cover at an alarming rate.”
Forestry and natural Resources minister, Nancy Tembo Friday raised a red flag that Malawi losing 32, 000 Hectares of forests reserve.
Briefing journalists ahead of World Biodiversity day which falls on 22 May, every year, the minister said there is need for the citizenry to holistically deal with the problem.
She said: “For example, studies have shown that Malawi is losing forest cover at an alarming rate of about 32,000 hectares every year and about 9 per cent of the 458 fish species that were assessed in Lake Malawi are at high risk of extinction, causing grave concern for food security.”
Tembo said biodiversity and ecosystem services form the core of livelihoods for the majority of the people and are critical natural assets that significantly support agricultural production which is Malawi’s development and economic growth springboard.
However, Tembo said climate change and environmental degradation through deforestation, bushfires, illegal charcoal production; introduction of invasive alien species, unsustainable farming practices such as cultivation along river banks, settlements in fragile areas and wetlands, continue to challenge environmental sustainability and negatively affect biological diversity in Malawi.
“Government through the Agriculture Ministry is implementing several initiatives including restoration of critical ecosystems like forests, wetlands and mountains, management of invasive alien species in the protected areas such as Nyika National Park and Mulanje Forest Reserve.
“Also, the regulation of import and export of biological resources, tree planting, enforcement of various environmental related legislations like the National Climate Change Policy, the Water Management Act among others to promote the conservation, sustainable utilization and equitable sharing of benefits from biological resources as part of its development agenda.” Said Nancy Tembo.
She added: the Chakwera administration is implementing the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2015- 2025) whose vision is to ensure that Malawis biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and sustainably utilized with full participation of all stakeholders.
She said the targets in our National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan aim at restoration of at-least 50% of degraded terrestrial and aquatic habitats including restoration of species and genetic diversity of global importance.
“Under the National Climate Change Resilience Programme, the ministry is implementing a project on Bua River Ecosystem Based management to enhance conservation and sustainable use of the Bua River Ecosystem. The project is covering 6 districts of Mchinji, Kasungu, Dowa, Ntchisi, Nkhotakota and Lilongwe, she said.
She said the implementation of the National Forest Landscape Restoration Strateg has also targeted restoration of a number of forest reserves including Ntchisi, Dzalanyama and Dzonzi-Mvai in Ntcheu, whose restoration has the direct potential to reduce a key threat to aquatic resources while also benefiting hydroelectric energy security since sedimentation of waterways and reservoirs makes the production of hydroelectricity less efficient.
Tembo said her ministry is also currently responsible for the conservation and management of at least 250 threatened species, the majority of which are freshwater fishes and one of the most common threats to these species is water sedimentation and that the above includes, 119 species of fish, most of which are cichlid fish endemic to Lake Malawi.
Forests account for 4% of Malawi total wealth and 7.5% of its natural capital – still, Malawi lost over half of its natural forests between 1972 and 1992 – a rate of 2.5% per year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :