Mulanje Cedar Tree on Edge of Extinction
After massive destruction of the country’s precious tree-Mulanje Cedar, now it has emerged that the country remains with only one mature Mulanje Cedar tree on Mulanje Mountain, the tree’s natural habitat.
National Coordinator for Mulanje Cedar at Forest Research Institute Malawi (FRIM) Innocent Taulo told Zodiak Online that massive destruction of cedar happened between 2014 and 2017.
“The inventory we conducted in 2014 found slightly over 35, 000 mature cedar trees in the mountain, came another assessment in 2017, we found seven mature trees and now there is only one mature tree and this tree is found at a private place within the mountain,” said Taulo.
Taulo said a number of Cedar restoration activities are currently underway at Mulanje Mountain such that from 2017 to date, about 604,500 seedlings were raised and planted by Mulanje and Phalombe communities.
He also said FRIM, MMCT, and Lilongwe Wildlife Center are planning to plant Mulanje cedar in other protected areas including Lilongwe Wildlife Center, for maximum protection of the tree.
On reports that cedar is a natural tree and cannot be planted anywhere even in Mulanje Mountain, Taulo said this is just a myth.
“Based on the Cedar translocation trials which FRIM established in 2016 on Mulanje, Zomba, Dedza Mountains, Luwawa, and Chikangawa forests, I am happy to inform you that Cedar is growing extremely well at Luwawa (Viphya Plateau plantation) in the Northern region of Malawi and also Zomba (Eastern region). This tells us that cedar which is scientifically called Widdringtonia whytei can be planted in all areas of high or mid-altitude of Malawi that have acid soils,” said Taulo.
Timbers produced from Mulanje cedar are durable and termite-proof hence becoming a critically endangered species.
Malawi’s first President Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda declared cedar a national tree in 1984.