It is a fact that deforestation is mostly a result of careless tree cutting for the production of charcoal and firewood collection and, to a lesser extent, opening up of new gardens. This calls for alternative sources of energy to be exploited and also increased use of wood saving stoves.
Figures from Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) show that less than 10 percent of the population is connected to the national electricity grid, which means that the use of electricity for cooking is minimal.
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Atupele Muluzi said during the launch of the National Forestry Season in Karonga in December that while government is working on increasing the population connected to the national grid, provision of alternative sources of energy should be intensified and prioritised.
The National Forestry Season runs from December 15 2014 to April 15 2015.
“Government in collaboration with the private sector is supporting the distribution of cook stoves, which is targeted at reaching two million Malawians by 2020. Clean stoves reduce use of wood by over 40 percent. We have distributed 400 000 cook stoves thus far,” Muluzi said.
Government is engaging the private sector and development partners to address the problem of deforestation.
Currently, Department of Forestry officials say replanting and tree management is being carried out in all government industrial plantations such as Viphya [in Mzimba], Dedza and Zomba.
As of 2013, 4 000 hectares were planted in these plantations and during this forestry season, about 6.4 million tree seedlings have been raised and over 5 000 hectares of land has been prepared for planting.
Currently, talks are underway for a local firm to partner a $1 billion (K500 billion) multinational private equity fund through government to provide technical and financial support to increase the reforestation programme of some of the country’s forestry plantations.