Mutharika inaugurated the season on December 19 when he planted the Mulanje Cedar and a mango tree at Thuchila trading centre in the district.
The President has termed the Mulanje Cedar, declared a national tree in 1974, as “precious and the only tree on earth that grows in Malawi.” The tree has been hacked down by illegal traders for timber over the decades, with only seven mature trees remaining.
But led by MBC Chairperson Rev Daniel Gunya, Director General Aubrey Sumbuleta, top management and staff, planted 150 Mulanje cedar trees and 450 other species, in an operation dubbed MBC Greenfest, a new initiative by the broadcaster aimed at enhancing the conservation efforts of protected Mulanje Cedar and promoting Mulanje as a tourist destination which is also home to the world heritage Sapitwa Peak, the highest peak in southern Africa.
“MBC is fulfilling its obligation by joining forces with communities in replenishing the trees in Mulanje,” Gunya said.
The Mulanje Cedar, he said, “should be protected and safeguarded by all means necessary,” Gunya added.
He said MBC’s Greenfest came an at “opportune time as the nation is on tree planting season>”
“This is the time each and every patriotic citizen of the land should plant a tree. One of these should be Mulanje Cedar.”
Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Minister Mark Botomani commended MBC for the initiative, saying it was pleasing to note that MBC was among institutions that were responding to Mutharika’s call to plant more trees across the country.
He said trees were one way of dealing with climate change.
He said Mulanje Cedar, calling is a “rare breed of tress”, was almost extinct,” saying this was a “worrisome development which we need to act as Malawians and I am glad that some of the species that we have planted today is Mulanje Cedar. We commend MBC for this noble initiative.
Experts from the Mulanje Conservation Trust told MBC Online that it takes 75-150 years for a cedar tree to mature.
The President said Mulanje Cedar, almost brought to extinction by loggers for its timber, was a protected species under the United Nations list of Engendered species.
“We have good things in this country which we don’t appreciate. Let’s preserve trees and our forests for fresh air and protection of our land from degradation.”
“For Malawi to develop, lets’ restore forest cover,” he urged Malawians to pick up shovels and tree seedlings to plant on bare lands.
The President said the country relies on its forest cover to help mitigate against climate change challenges such as gas emissions, to safeguard sources of water and catchments, wood for timber, fuel wood and protection of soil fertility.
“Trees are useful. They give us air and bring rains and it’s important to plant trees,” Mutharika said, adding that Malawi, like many poor countries, were paying a price for destroying its natural vegetation.
He said global warming had resulted in floods which wash away crops and property, and have seen rivers and lakes drying up.
The Malawi leader said climate change and global warming was set upon the world, citing late rains in Malawi when decades past rains fell in October. “The world is heating up through carbon emissions,” he said.
“We should take lead in preserving the environment. I want every Malawian to take part in planting trees.”