MULANJE, Malawi, September 06, 2021 (AEJ) – Scores of irate enchroachers estimated to be over fifty have occupied Natchidwa Forest and are illegally harvesting timber without permits in contravention of the Forestry Act.
Natchidwa Forest is part of the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve.
Eric Bingwani, District Forestry Officer confirmed the development saying hectares of Eucalyptus species are being harvested unsustainably without remorse in the area.
According to Mbingwani, this came to light when the Chief Resident Magistrate Shahida Bakili visited the site where 27 people were initially arrested for similar offences last week by both forestry and Malawi Defence Forces soldiers. The Magistrate went on the site to appreciate the scale of the damage caused on the ecosystem.
On Monday 30th August, 2021, Director of Forestry, Clement Chilima confirmed on Hard Talk Environment that indeed there was indeed a fracas, as villagers threw stones at Malawi Defence Force and Forestry Rangers on an enforcement mission.
"Our report indicate that three forest rangers and two villagers were injured. They were treated at the hospital for minor injuries. Scores of illegal timber operators have been arrested and the harvested timber confiscated. We are waiting for a detailed report." Chilima explained when asked about the incident on the platform.
Mulanje Mountain is one of the country's key biodiversity hotspots and home to several species of plants of both biological and economic value.
The mountain is a catchment area for several rivers including Ruo, a major outlet from the this great massif in central Africa that empties its waters in the Shire River.
The events in Mulanje comes fast on the heels of the recently held Malawi National Green Climate Conference that took place on 26th and 27th of August in Lilongwe the capital.
The conference was held under the theme: Collective Responsibility for Enhanced Climate Action in Malawi. It aimed at exploring ways of scaling-up coordinated efforts among different players aimed at mitigating and addressing the negative impact of climate change.
Photos: Hastings Jimani, ZBS Mulanje