Government has urged communities around Dzalanyama Forest Reserve in Lilongwe to preserve trees to reduce water shortages.
Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara said this during the tree planting exercise held in Dzalanyama forest under the theme “Malawi Forests rooted in the past, branching out in the future” on Thursday in Lilongwe.
Muhara said the community and stakeholder efforts in preservation can save Lilongwe from its water challenges.
“Dzalanyama Forest Reserve is the water source of the capital city hence the need to do more for conservation of the forest reserve”, said Muhara.
He called for concerted efforts among stakeholders for the preservation of the forest.
“I would like to commend the Malawi Defence Force with the help of the traditional leaders for making sure that the forest reserve is protected,” stressed Muhara.
Muhara thanked the donor partners, private companies, non-governmental organisation, and education institutions for coming out in large numbers to take part in the tree planting exercise.
Speaking earlier the resident representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Kazuhiko Tokuhashi observed that Dzalanyama Forest Reserve had been seriously degraded and deforested due to illegal charcoal production.
Tokuhashi hailed the government of Malawi for coming up with the idea of engaging the Malawi Defence Force in patrolling the forest reserve.
He said public awareness could reduce consumption of charcoal and firewood and help conserve the forest reserve.
“Malawi’s government’s commitment to conserve the forest reserve needs to be supported by all various stakeholders in order to achieve the intended purpose,” said Tokuhashi.
Speaking in an interview one of the organizers of the tree planting exercise, Lilongwe Water Board Chairperson Kayisi Sadala said the negative effects of environmental degradation can be reversed to safeguard the catchment area.
Sadala said the continuous commitment by government and other stakeholders to plant trees in the forest reserve every year is very commendable.
He emphasized the need for recognizing the importance of increasing forest cover through the tree planting exercise to strengthen resilience of disasters in the communities.
Office of the President and Cabinet in collaboration with Lilongwe Water Board and the Department of Forestry provided 34,000 trees to be planted in the forest reserve this year.