Understaffing, corruption hampers forest protection

Following continued destruction of forests by human activities, the department of Forestry says it is still waiting for funds from the Treasury which they were promised for recruitment of 300 forest rangers and 140 forest assistants to enforce security in the forest reserves.

Director of Forestry, Dr. Clement Chilima, admitted that the country’s forests reserves are critically understaffed a development which has put them at higher risk of being depleted.

He cited an example of big forest reseves of Dzalanyama which has less than ten officers, and Zomba Malosa which has only five officers.

Dr. Chilima said: “The current situation in terms of low staffing its very pathetic and we requested the treasury to release funds so that we can recruit more officers and we are just waiting for them to give us a go ahead and we hope that very soon we will be authorized to advertise for the recruitment.”

Dr. Chilima further said corruption among the forestry employees also remains a challenge.

“Another challenge is that we have corrupt officers in the department and some have already been disciplined and what we have done in that aspect is to write all the officers in the department warning them that we will not tolerate any corrupt practices,” said Dr. Chilima.

He disclosed that currently four the department has four officers who are under interdiction pending further investigations on grounds of corruption.

Despite efforts by both government and non-governmental organization advocating for the protection of forest reserves human activities such as charcoal burning have been on the rise.

Recently, police in Chileka have intercepted two lorries loaded with charcoal.

According to Chileka police station public relations officer, Sergeant Jonathan Filipo, the act of charcoal burning in the area is a huge challenge despite efforts to penalise the perpetrators.

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