Ntcheu district commissioner Paul Kalilombe says the council is failing to police charcoal production because of shortage of manpower and of adequate funding.
Speaking on Saturday at Matchereza in the district during the presentation of 63 bicycles to communities where Mott Mcdonalds is implementing a Shire River Basin Management Programme (SRBMP) project of planting trees in catchment areas, Kalilombe said economically empowering the community will ease the problem.
“The Forestry Department is not adequately empowered to decisively deal with deforestation and our roadblocks are so porous that charcoal is freely passing through, thereby increasing deforestation,” he said.
Kalilombe called for increased enforcement of laws that prevent charcoal burning and selling.
“Charcoal burning is the single most serious factor that leads to deforestation due to lack of alternative source of livelihood and poverty,” he said.
Mott Mcdonalds SRBMP field coordinator for Ntcheu and Neno, Johnston Chitupira, said restoration of forests along the Shire River catchment area would ensure that electricity generation is not interrupted.
“We have distributed push bikes to project implementation committees [Pics] to enable them police forests as we are encouraging co-management of forests with communities,” he said.