Nsanje blames COVID-19 for not meeting tree planting target

By Martin Chiwanda, MANA

Nsanje District Forestry Office has attributed its failure to meet the target on trees which were planned to be planted in 2019-2020 tree planting season to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Forestry Officer, Noel Moyo said in an interview on Tuesday that the district targeted to plant about 1.2 million trees but only managed about 1.1 million.


Moyo said the district, through partners such as Care Malawi, put in place several initiatives to ensure they achieve the target.

“We wanted to plant about 1.2 million trees in the just ended tree planting season and with our partners like Care Malawi, we deemed it possible to achieve it,” Moyo said.

“However, with the emergence of COVID-19, which forced indefinite closure of schools, our plan didn’t materialise since we wanted to use school learners to plant trees and take care of them. But things didn’t go according to plan.”

Tree Planting

However, the district forestry officer said despite failure to meet the target, the survival rate would improve this year because the district started planting trees with the first rains in the just ended tree planting season. 

“Last tree planting season, we managed to plant about one million trees. The survival rate was at 65 percent due to harsh weather conditions being experienced in the district. 

“We managed to start planting the trees during the first rains so that we improve the survival rate,” Moyo added.

Renewable energy stoves

In a related environmental conservation initiative, communities in Kasungu District are benefiting from a Maeve Project in its climate-change-resilience efforts through promoting use of renewable energy. 

The project, whose mission is to promote energy conservation and maximizing of clean technology, has seen communities in the district adopting the utilization of renewable energy through the use of affordable clay-made stoves and solar energy. 

Through the project, men and women groups have been trained in clay stove making which Maeve buys and sells at affordable prices. 

Clay stoves in Gideon village, Kasungu

Zione Chalera, chairperson for Chiwamba Group in Traditional Authority Kaomba, said the stoves have improved their livelihood and the environment.

“These stoves save firewood because we only cut few tree branches and not the whole tree since the stoves do not take time to absorb heat.

Coronavirus alert

“Besides that, the project is helping in preserving the environment. It has changed our livelihoods because when we produce stoves, the organisation buys from us and we earn income to help our families,” Chalera said.

Maeve’s Project Programs Manager, Tendai Chambati said the organisation is geared at ensuring that every Malawian adopts the use of clean technologies to curb challenges facing the environment in the country.

Coronavirus alert

“There is climate change which is mostly resulting from materials being used for energy.  But solar energy is clean and cannot harm ozone layer, that is why people are encouraged to use renewable energy because it is healthy and does not harm the atmosphere,” Chambati said.

He commended the response from communities for adopting the use of renewable energy.

Maeve Project is concerned with increased deforestation for firewood and charcoal burning practices, hence the promotion of use of convenient and affordable clay stoves.—Additional reporting by Dyson Kamwana, MANA