Zomba mountain forest reserve under threat

Persistent man-made activities such as deforestation and wild fires, are putting Zomba Mountain forest reserve at risk of being completely depleted.

YFM can reveal that there are only five armed forest rangers guarding the mountain instead of the recommended 30.

Illegal logging is also one of the problems that are putting the mountain at risk.

Director of Forestry Department, Clement Chilima, admitted the inadequate number of forest rangers safeguarding the mountain.

However, Chilima asked the public to report to authorities any illegal practices that are taking place in the mountain.

“What I would recommend is when people are aware of their names they should report them immediately for action,” he told YFM.

Chilima said the department has guidelines on forestry harvesting activities to ensure sustainable harvesting of trees.

“We don’t allow members of staff to be involved in forestry harvesting activities. We issue licenses every year after the trees have matured after we have assessed and made sure that we have harvested sustainably,”he said.

He said licensing rules were also established in order to protect the rivers that are flowing in the mountain.

“The license closes, right now we are in a closed season from October to April there is no licensed harvesting taking place, if there are people cutting trees at the mountain it is illegal.”

Chilima said the department is struggling to contain deliberate fires on the mountain.

“We don’t know why people set fires because a lot of the fires are deliberate and deliberate fires are very difficult to fight unlike accidental,” he said.

He disclosed the department is currently trying to strengthen law enforcement teams to fight illegal activities on the mountain.

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