- Category: Parliament Track
- Published Date
- Written by Phillip Pemba
Lack of appropriate laws to stop burning of bushes is one of the major factors limiting success of the National Tree Planting Programme which Parliament has been funding for several years.
In an interview on Tuesday, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management Principal Secretary Yanira Ntupanyama said government is making efforts to come up with legislation to stop bush fires which she said are damaging the country’s forest reserves.
In the current 2012/13 National Budget, Parliament allocated K50 million to the Forest Preservation Programme under the ministry with a target to plant trees covering 600 hectares of land.
This year’s tree planting exercise was launched in December 2012 by President Joyce Banda and targets to plant about 60 million trees in all 28 districts of the country.
“Fire is a major problem. We have no legislation that one can enforce to stop fires in the fields. In countries such as Zimbabwe, you are not allowed to burn things when preparing land.
“We are trying to come up with some rules or piece of legislation that does not allow people to burn bush in their fields,” said Ntupanyama.
She said most of the fires that torch the country’s forest reserves start from people’s gardens.
Apart from using the money to plant trees, Ntupanyama said government is also spending the allocated resources to sensitise communities to the negative effects of forest destruction.
“We have done fire sensitisation campaigns with several communities like at Chikangawa Forest in Mzimba. We give the people information about the effects of the fires and how they can look after the trees,” said Ntupanyama.
She said success of the tree planting exercise has also been hampered by issues like poor seedlings.
“Apart from fire, there are also several factors which impact on the survival rate of the trees such as the age of the seedlings and rainfall availability. People find it difficult to water a big area of trees if you have poor rains,” said Ntupanyama.
She could not say how many trees have been planted so far out of the 60 million, saying her office needs to do proper research on the same.
In Mulanje and Machinga, government has planned to plant 3.2 million and 2.5 million trees, respectively.
Banda launched the tree planting exercise in Kasungu. The season runs up to April 15 this year under the theme Protect and Plant Trees on Bare Hills and along River Banks.
The country’s private sector, non-governmental organisations and religious bodies are also taking part in the exercise.