This ministerial statement was delivered in the National Assembly in Lilongwe on Thursday, 22 October 2020.
Madam Speaker it is an honour to stand before the August house as Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources and I would like to thank His Excellency the President Dr. Lazarus McCathy Chakwera for this opportunity to serve Malawi in the capacity of Minister.
Madam Speaker, this afternoon I present a statement on preparations towards this year’s National Forestry Season and the upcoming intended launch of the National- Clean Up Day. Both events will be presided over by the President of this Republic.
Madam Speaker, I want to start my statement by reminding members what His Excellency the President stated, in the Environmental brief on Monday, the 19th October, 2020 that we must have a common understanding, that we, in the present, are trustees charged with protecting and improving what we have inherited from those who went before us. The Environment, Forestry and Natural Resources are for future generation hence it is our noble duty, each one of us, to protect and enhance our natural environment for the next generation.
"Let us plant trees on our birthdays, wedding days, anniversaries, celebration of a new born baby and in memory of our departed ones. Yes, let’s find opportunities to plant more and more trees."
Madam Speaker, each year the Head of State leads the nation in commemorating the National Forestry Season which runs from the 15th December to 15th of April the following year. In view of this, my ministry has commenced preparations for this year’s forestry national event which will be presided over by the President. Running concurrent with the national event will be the launch of tree planting activities by local leaders throughout the country. I would therefore like to encourage honourable members of this August house to carry out the National Forestry Season events in their constituencies. To this end my Ministry will supply to each constituency a thousand plus tree seedlings to be distributed for village woodlots within the constituency.
Madam Speaker my ministry wishes to collaborate with the members of parliament in ensuring the survival and management of the seedlings and natural regeneration to ensure that we have trees and forests in Malawi.
In line with this the main objective of the National Forestry Season is to build a responsible citizenry that plants and cares for trees and forests for the sustenance of the present and future generations. Trees and forests have multiple benefits ranging from supply of various products to ecosystem services such as soil conservation, water and climate management. Destruction and unsustainable use of trees and forests lead to drying up of rivers, siltation of water bodies and soil erosion. For example, stakeholders cutting trees in concession areas are not equally replanting the logged area. This in turn places human health and survival at risk.
Madam Speaker Tonse government is committed to expedite the attainment of 4.5 million hectares towards the goal to restore degraded agriculture and forestry landscape, which our government committed towards the AFR-100 initiative (African Forest Landscape Restoration) and the Bonn challenge in 2016. Malawi’s degraded land and forests will be restored through tree planting, tree protection and managing of natural regeneration by the year 2030.
Madam Speaker, this year’s National Forestry Season (NFS) will be commemorated under the theme: “Trees and forests for improved health and well-being” (Mitengo ndi Nkhalango kuthandizira kutukula thanzi lathu ndi umoyo wabwino). The theme Madam Speaker, has been designated to reflect, on the importance of trees and forests amidst the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic as a base for an accelerated national development.
Madam Speaker, through this honourable house, I wish to call upon the faith leaders, traditional and local leaders to become champions for sustainable natural resource interventions in their respective sectors and communities. Let me also acknowledge contributions being made by some local leaders, environmental journalists, and NGOs who have already commenced the upscaling of sustainable natural resource management interventions in their localities through tree and forestry conservation, governance and awareness.
Madam Speaker, deforestation remains a major challenge for my ministry as triggered by increased demand for land for agricultural production and settlements due to rapid population growth. In addition, continued overdependence on charcoal and firewood for domestic and commercial use derails our afforestation and restoration efforts across the country. It is against this background that my ministry from this year’s National Forestry Season is promoting and highly recommending production and use of alternative sources of energy such us briquettes, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and the growing of bamboos as a direct substitute for trees and charcoal.
Madam Speaker, I want to remind the general public that this is an opportune time to identify and prepare planting sites and trees for natural regeneration management.
We as a ministry employ each one of us to ensure that tree planting must be done throughout the year to restore our rivers and habitats. Let us plant trees on our birthdays, wedding days, anniversaries, celebration of a new born baby and in memory of our departed ones. Yes, let’s find opportunities to plant more and more trees. Truly, time has come to do things differently for the good of the future generation.
Madam Speaker, on environment and waste management, our country is currently facing a huge challenge in the management of waste due to various reasons including indiscriminate waste disposal, inadequate waste collection services and poor waste disposal facilities. Today, I stand here to echo what the president His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera said on Monday, 19th October 2020 about the environment. He said and I quote ‘protecting our country’s natural environment is as much a civic duty as praying for its abundance’ end of quote. In this regard, I would like to inform this house about the president’s intention to launch a National clean-up day in Malawi with the purpose of mobilizing the general public to participate in taking care of and cleaning their environment.
Madam Speaker, while the National clean-up day will be operationalized by my Ministry, its implementation of the clean-up activities will be done by the Ministry of Local Government through local government structures. I therefore, once again call upon my fellow Members of Parliament, councilors, traditional leaders, faith based leaders and the general public to take lead in ensuring that our environment is clean by reuse, recycle and reduse. For instance, generating bio-gas from organic waste, making briquettes from saw dust and other organic waste, making blocks and bags from plastic waste.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to inform the August House and the nation that preparations for the launch of the National Clean-Up Day are at an advanced stage and the nation will be informed through the media of the actual day.
Madam Speaker, in Tonse Alliance we realize that we cannot achieve economic growth let alone eradicate hunger and poverty if environmental management does not underpin our socio-economic development agenda. I therefore ask all Members of Parliament and leaders to initiate and participate in the National clean-up activities and related environmental management initiatives as emulated by our Speaker Right Honourable Catherine Gotani Hara Mp who is involved in a 10km walk fundraising of Kavuzi Catchment Area. Let’s be green in our homes, let’s be green at our work places, let’s be green in schools, let’s be green in the streets, let’s be green in all institutions, let’s be green everywhere and every time. It is only through a change of our mindsets that the aspirations of a clean and healthy environment can be realised. Let’s proudly pass to the next generation an improved and safeguarded environment. I strongly believe that together we can and we must. Thank you very much for your attention.