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Government to Recruit 300 Game Rangers -Minister

By Kondwani Magombo

Mangochi, May 25, Mana: Government is planning to recruit 300 game rangers to help in reinforcing laws to protect the country’s Forest Reserves and Wildlife.

Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo disclosed this recently in Mangochi when she toured Phirilongwe Forest Reserve in the area of Senior Chief Mponda to familiarize herself with environmental degradation caused by human activities taking place there.

She bemoaned the rate of degradation at the forest reserve which she noted was due to, among other things, wanton felling of trees for charcoal burning.

The Minister noted understaffing of game rangers to reinforce law around Phirilongwe Forest Reserve to which would recruit more rangers to man the forest.

“One issue is that, we don’t have adequate staff, so law enforcement is a problem; we have been given a go ahead to employ 300 rangers as a start but every year we will be employing more because we are now taking the issue of environmental conservation and protection seriously,” Tembo revealed.

She observed that the charcoal burning business was being influenced by “some bad apples” that are colluding with the charcoal burners to circumvent the law”.

Tembo condemned the syndicate saying government would ensure that the said cycle was broken and that culprits are brought to book.

The Minister disclosed that Phirilongwe was among forest reserves from eight countries in the world listed to benefit from UN and World Bank’s Landscape Restoration Programme, which would commence in due course.

She assured people around Phirilongwe that the UN and World Bank Program would have a component aimed at empowering them to improve their economic status.

“The project will be implemented through FAO will implement and communities will be engaged in economic activities such as tree planting and bee keeping. We are sure that these activities will empower the people and distract them from venturing into charcoal burning,” she said.

Mangochi South-West Member of Parliament, Shadreck Namalomba hailed government for its its commitement ot protect fporste and woildlife in the country. He promised to sensitize his constituents to refrain from cutting down trees carelessly in the Forest Reserve.

Namalomba noted lack of alternative economic activities in the area to divert the people from turning to charcoal burning.

He appealed to government to find deliberate means to empower the people in the area economically.

Group Village Headman (GVH) Kalino suggested that government should make deliberate efforts to find means of empowering the locals to divert them from charcoal burning.

Phirilongwe Forest Reserve was first gazetted in 1924 as a protected area and it has a total estimated area of 16, 121Ha, commonly populated with Miombo woodland, according to Mangochi District Forestry Officer, Leonard Kamangadazi.

The Forest is situated on the South Western side of Mangochi District, stretching, from Chimvuu in Senior Chief Nankumba area to Bwanje in Ntcheu and it borders with Balaka district in the southern part. 

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