According to the government, Malawi has recently experienced unprecedented land and forest destruction as a result of unplanned conversion of forestland to cultivated farmland, poor agricultural practices, and a shortage of appealing alternatives to the use of charcoal and firewood for cooking and heating.
Nancy Tembo, the Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, expressed these sentiments in Lilongwe on Friday as she led activities to launch the Global Landscapers Forum’s Lilongwe Chapter (GLFx).
GLFx is a community of individuals with passion to accelerate restoration of Malawi’s degraded and deforested landscapes and is being spearheaded by the Centre for Applied Systems Analysis (CASA) and the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) in collaboration with the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).
Tembo disclosed that about 29 metric tonnes of soil, on every hectare of land, is lost annually through runoff, rendering the cultivated landscape barren for crop production.
She said this threatens food security and economic growth of the country while, at the same time, threatening hydropower generation due to siltation in rivers and lakes.
The minister lamented that despite the current state of the landscapes, Malawians continue degrading and deforesting their landscapes.
“This nationwide loss in forest cover is currently estimated at 30, 000 hectares per year. It is therefore the responsibility of every Malawian to halt this degradation and deforested landscapes across landscapes in the country,” Tembo said.
She said one of the most promising solutions to land degradation is the Forest Landscape Restoration, a social process that aims to regain, improve and maintain vital ecological functions and enhance human wellbeing.
Tembo indicated that the restoration drive will also contribute towards the UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration, which runs from June 2022 to 2030, and aims at scaling up efforts to halt land degradation, and restore degraded and deforested landscapes, across the globe.
“In this repsect, the initiative by CASA and IUFRO to establish GLFx Chapter in Malawi is commendable and the Government of Malawi supports it,” she assured.
CASA Managing Director and Convener of GLFx Malawi Chapter Launch, Dr. Steve Makungwa, reiterated that the vision of the chapter is to create a new Malawi with sustainable landscapes that are productive, prosperous, equitable and resilient.
Makungwa said the chapter realizes that for Malawi to address deforestation and land degradation, every Malawian must be involved and should play his or her role in one way or the other.