By Martin Chiwanda
Assistant District Forestry Officer, John Banda, in an interview on Monday said the depletion of the forest reserve resources is estimated at K5 million in August alone.
Banda said, despite intensive forest patrols to reduce the illegal forestry activities in the Matandwe Forest Reserve, it has been heavily deforested due to illegal charcoal production among other things.
He further said the degradation of the forest resources in the reserve has impacted negatively on the lives, property and livelihood of the communities through flash floods and strong winds.
“Of late Matandwe Forest Reserve has heavily been deforested due to illegal charcoal production, pit sawing, firewood collection and harmful bush fire. Even encroachment is also a major cause of deforestation in the forest reserve.
“We have lost billions due to such malpractices. Just a month of August alone if we quantify the damage, it is estimated that over K5 million has been lost due to the damage caused,” explained Banda.
Banda revealed that the patrols which their office and police conducted Thursday and Friday last week, has netted about seven suspects who will appear before court Monday.
He said among the arrested suspects, there is a teacher who is working at Dalitso Private School in the district and a retired primary school teacher.
Nsanje Police Publicist Sub-Inspector, Agnes Zalakoma, confirmed the arrests of the six while saying the suspects will appear before the court Monday to answer their charges on entering the protected area without permit.
Matandwe forest reserve which was gazetted in 1929 as catchment conservation has 26, 381 hectares.