MHG Forestry Office Run Short of Security Guards

Charcoal business is one of factors leading to deforestation in the country Charcoal business is one of factors leading to deforestation in the country - file photo

After losing about 500 hacters of forest cover in the last two years due security understaffing, Zodiak has found that Machinga district council has now recruited only one additional security guard to make a total of 31 officers.

An inside source at Machinga district council has tipped Zodiak that the district's forestry office has beefed up its security force by recruiting a single forest guard despite having a deficit of 50 to reach its minimum requirement of 80 guards.

This comes barely three months after the office revealed that they are losing its forest cover due to encroachment and charcoal burning which has resulted from understaffing in its forest security department.

When Zodiak visited Machinga district forestry department to find the reasons behind the single recruitment, Assistant Forestry Officer, Andrew Kaitano Hamuza said they were only following an order from the ministry of local government which approved the office to recruit one officer and promote two already existing officers.

Hamuza said they are unable to provide protection to the remainder of the forest due to unavailability of man power, but says the ministry of natural resources is intending to recruit more security officers whom his office will benefit from.

"We are having difficulties to protect the forest because of lack of full security force but we hope to benefit from ministry of natural resources' recruitments," said Hamuza.

An environmental expert, Mathews Malata has expressed dismay on the matter by calling on government to pump in more resources in the recruitment process of forest security personnel if natural resources are to be secured.

"Government and stakeholders have to be serious in protecting the environment by providing much needed resources in the recruitment process of security personnel. This is a sign of undermining the value of ecosystem services derived from forests," said Malata.

Liwonde forest reserve in Machinga is one of the surviving forests in the country despite being depleted slowly by charcoal burners.

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