Dowa district forestry officer Deborah Mushali has appealed to government sectors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the district to find ways of stopping illegal charcoal burning which is said to have hit alarming levels.
Mushali asked for alternative businesses for charcoal burners to save the natural resources which are being depleted.
Speaking during a district executive committee (DEC) meeting on Monday, Mushali said while forestry officers in the district are confiscating illegal charcoal, the burners still take the activity as a source of income to support themselves and their families.
“We need to think of alternative business activities to stop people from illegal charcoal burning,” she said.
Pedro Kampala of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Lilongwe Arch-diocese, accused the district’s forestry officers working at Mvera Roadblock of failing to confiscate bags of charcoal from illegal traders, saying the malpractice has reduced confidence of the communities in the battle against illegal charcoal burning in the district.
Kampala said what if this continues, the district would turn into a desert in the years to come.
But Mushali informed the members that most of the charcoal confiscated on the Lilongwe- Salima Road does not come from Dowa alone, but other districts such as Salima and Nkhotakota. He asked all the citizens of the district to report to police anyone suspected to be involved in charcoal burning.
On his part, Dowa District Council’s director of planning and development, Emmanuel Bulukutu asked all forestry stakeholders to formulate by-laws to stop illegal charcoal burning and preserve forest reserves in the district.
Bulukutu said the enforcement of the country’s laws on charcoal burning is a problem unlike in the neighbouring country, Tanzania where if one is found charcoal burning, he is taken straight to prison.
Charcoal is the main source of fuel energy in major cities and towns in Malawi.