Department of Forestry Struggling To Improve Tree Survival Rate

Tree planting: Survival rate low Tree planting: Survival rate low pic by Vanani Nyirenda

 

The Forestry Department says it is struggling to ensure a higher survival rate of trees planted each year due to poor management as only 35 per cent are surviving.

Director of forestry Stella Gama said this in Mzimba this week during the launch of the tree planting season. The exercise was in partnership with Climate Resilience Initiative in Malawi - CRIM a project being funded by UNDP.

Gama says said currently the survival rate is at 65 percent in the country.

“As a nation, we are planting over 60 million trees yearly and also managing existing forests by now after maybe ten or 20 years of planting trees. We should have had beautiful landscapes covered with trees. But there are a number of challenges that we face,” Gama observed.

“One of the major challenges is that trees that are planted after the rainy season are not adequately managed. This results in low survival rate. For example, currently the survival rate of trees that we planted last year is 65%,” he said.

She indicated that the department is issuing charcoal licenses to ensure sustainability in the utilization of trees, where 90 percent of the population relies on firewood as source of energy for domestic use.

Gama blamed charcoal making as the main culprit since  90% of Malawians rely on biomass fuel for their energy needs. However he said what the department of forestry is now advocating is that people should grow trees and manage forests in a sustainable fashion.

“We have started issuing charcoal licences to stakeholders who are managing their forests sustainably,” he said.

Senior chief Mthwalo said they have introduced bylaws to empower traditional leaders to take to task those found cutting trees wantonly as a deterrent measure.

“In my area we have established by laws starting from village level where we have committees that ensure that trees are not just being cut carelessly. Those found in the wrong pay fines starting from the village level up to the traditional authority level,” said Senior chief Mthwalo.

At least three million trees will be planted in Mzimba by the end this year.

The exercise will take place with support from such partners as CRIM who are already implementing a four year project in the district.

The project aims to enhance capacity of vulnerable communities to adapt to impact of climate change by, among other things, promoting afforestation, fish and irrigation farming.

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