Charcoal trade fuelling deforestation in Malawi

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Malawi as a country relies mainly on two energy sources; one of them being charcoal and comes from trees that are either cut in the forests or some reserved areas.


Many Malawians both in rural and urban areas resort to using charcoal for various functions which in turn has worsened the issue of deforestation in the country.

Dealing with the problem seems to be far from over because of the availability and increasing demands of the product, motivating charcoal burners and sellers to continue making the commodity available.

It is against such background that the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus says the newly launched National Charcoal strategy will help provide solutions for the problem of charcoal as the country is trying to conserve the country’s forests.

During a meeting in Lilongwe for forestry stakeholders aimed at finding solutions on the problem of charcoal burning and discuss mechanisms that can be put in place to find lasting solutions to tackle the problem, Chairperson for the caucus, Alex Meja, says at the rate the country’s forests are going, there is need to intensify sensitization on the importance of trees conservation.

Meja said while plans and ideas are being put in place to find long lasting solutions, there is need for a revised security structure that can make sure that charcoal burning, distribution and use is regulated.

“Rules and regulations are already in place but we need reinforcement of these rules and we are counting on our police officers. The unfortunate part is that some of our law enforcers allow charcoal traders to pass check points with many bags of charcoal and are not arrested. Somehow the police are letting us down in addressing this challenge,” said Meja.

Deputy Inspector General of Police responsible for Administration, John Nyondo said the police force is ready and will continue to work in collaboration with the forestry department to help end the vice.

“As a law enforcer, we will continue making sure that we hold hands and end this practice. We will sit down with our officers to make sure that people who are found doing this illegal trade are prosecuted and we put an end to this,” explained Nyondo.

In 2015, the Department of Forestry issued a press statement where it said the act of charcoal burning is becoming a major driver of forest degradation.

Statistics indicates that about 80 to 95 percent of the country’s population still uses charcoal as its source of energy, in turn posing danger to the country’s forests.

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