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Deforestation in Malawi

Author: Andrew (Young Reporter, Malawi)

Deforestation is recognized as a major driver towards loss of diversity and ecosystem in Malawi. Trees are vital in our daily lives; they provide us with oxygen. Imagine what would happen if we have no oxygen? We could all die. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which causes climate change, that is affecting us globally. What causes deforestation? What can we do about it? Do we have to fold our hands and watch?

Malawi is a developing country which has enormous pressure being exerted on it’s forest resources. Forests are depleted due to excessive use of biomass, such as wood, charcoal, and agriculture residues mostly used for cooking and heating. According to the world bank data, Malawi – the landlocked country located in southern central Africa- provides less than 10 percent (The World Bank) of its population with access to electricity. To other people wood or charcoal production is a business to source income for their living. Government has laws that protect forests, but law enforcers find it hard to deal with people who are doing this illegal business because of corruption involving charcoal suppliers or burners and law enforcement officers and to some extent use of ‘black magic’ has been mentioned as one of the factors that lead people to get away with the crime. There are incidents that law enforcers fear to apprehend charcoal producers due to beliefs of ‘black magic’.

Afforestation, reforestation and awareness are some of the solutions for deforestation, but coming up with an alternative way of source of energy to make charcoal or firewood, it is better to deal with excessive use of biomass. Have you ever heard about briquettes? Briquettes are among the best alternative sources of energy to charcoal/fire wood. Briquettes can be made from sawdust waste and waste paper. This alternative can significantly reduce deforestation rate and acts as a waste management strategy.

So, the question is, what can we do about it? There is a need to promote use of alternative sources of energy other than wood. In this way people would improve their livelihoods simultaneously curbing deforestation and mitigating global warming, for a better sustainable environment.

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