Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka has called for collaborative efforts in national reforestation and conservation initiatives.
He made the call on Saturday when he launched a tree planting exercise in Traditional Authority (T/A) Masula in Lilongwe.
Friends of Malingunde Development Association (Foma) organised the tree planting initiative.
Said Msaka: “By planting trees, we plant the foundation for life for generations to come. As American poet Lucy Larcom says ‘he who plants a tree, plants hope’.
“A nation that destroys its trees destroys itself. Forests are, therefore, the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. Apart from their aesthetic value, and their usefulness as sources of food, shelter and shade, trees are critical for our air quality.”
He also disclosed that government plans to plant 60 million trees this season alone.
However, Msaka emphasised that government alone cannot achieve this without the support of its various development partners, including community leaders and local associations.
“We need more trees in order to protect and restore our environment. If we speak alone as a ministry, nothing will happen. But if citizens have embraced the idea and are running with it, the programme will succeed,” he said.
Foma chairperson Humphrey Kachilamale said they initiated the tree planting project to help tackle persistent water shortages experienced in Lilongwe City and erratic rains, which are a result of degradation of natural resources along the Lilongwe River and Dzalanyama Forest.
He said the association will plant 40 000 trees this season and another 40 000 next season.
Meanwhile, Msaka has advised Lilongwe Water Board and the Department of Forestry to work hand in hand with Friends of Malingunde to ensure their goals are achieved.
He also emphasised the need for communities to take good care of the trees to restore lost natural resources. n