Over 11 group village heads (GVH) in Mzimba have signed a forest co-management agreement with Department of Forestry and district council to manage forest resources in their respective forest blocks.
The signing ceremony, facilitated by Protecting Ecosystem and Restoring Forests in Malawi (Perform) project took place on Saturday at Mushroom Shelter in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mzukubola’s area in the district.
The village heads committed themselves to saving their blocks from charcoal production, firewood collection, uncontrolled bush fires and other forest malpractices.
Perform’s chief of party Ramzy Kanaan said a co-management agreement for Perekezi Forest is the first agreement to be signed in the country.
“This is the first agreement and similar agreements with different rules and management structures are expected to be signed in other regions probably next month,” he said.
Kannan said the signing of the agreement devolves responsibility for management of Perekezi Forest and enhances efficiency.
Senior GVH Chikomeni Thole said they had a lot of problems in protecting the forest mainly from charcoal production, but with the agreement, forests will be well protected.
According to the Forest Act of 1997, the blocks remain property of the government. Communities are only given users’ rights.