Forest Conservation in Malawi
Why do we run a Forest Conservation project in Africa? Deforestation in Africa is a huge problem and, in Malawi, an area of forest the size of a football pitch is cut down every 10 minutes!
- Rapid population growth
- Acres of forest being cleared for agriculture
- As forests disappear, mass erosion contributes to flooding
- No ownership by the local community
- The government is under-resourced
- Forest Conservation Committees established to protect forests
- Simple bylaws adopted and enforced
- Ensure families around the forests use Changu Changu Moto
fuel-efficient cookstoves to reduce wood used for cooking
- Encourage the planting of new trees to reduce the pressure on indigenous forests
Trees are cut down to use for
timber or to burn bricks
Huge areas of forest have been
destroyed by charcoal production
Farmers clear land by burning trees
in order to farm for one year
Forest Conservation in Malawi, Africa
Achievements and Future Plans
We have protected approximately 340 sq.kms of forest. We have over 1,700 Conservation Committee members working in the Kandoli, Choma and Nkhata Bay South forest areas. Our aim is to continue supporting the Forest Conservation Committees and promoting forest conservation in the hills to the south of Nkhata Bay District.
How We Work
We empower local communities to become the solution and work in partnership with them and government departments. Together we have introduced bylaws and educated the local communities on benefits of conservation.
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Why It Is So Important
High population growth has been the prime cause of deforestation across Malawi and has led to soil degradation, landslides, perennial rivers drying up, rain shortages and depletion of wildlife. Wood is taken from indigenous forests for building and to use for cooking. Increasing numbers of people have become involved in the production and sale of charcoal, particularly in areas near towns, further decimating the remaining forests. Trees are also cut down for firewood and timber used for housebuilding or are burned to make space for growing crops.
An area of forest the size of a football pitch is cut down every 10 minutes, and for this reason, Ripple Africa runs a Forest Conservation project in Malawi, Africa.
We are doing this by:
- empowering local communities to take ownership of their forests and set up local forest conservation committees
- working in partnership with communities and district government staff to introduce bylaws to protect the forests
- reducing illegal activity by supporting the conservation committees and Forestry Department to patrol the forested hills
- educating local communities on the importance of forest conservation
- promoting sustainable environmental projects such as Ripple Africa’s Tree Planting project and the Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cookstove project.
For years, Ripple Africa has worked to fight deforestation in Malawi through tree planting and fuel-efficient cookstove projects.
However, while Ripple Africa has been fighting deforestation in populated lowland areas, the charity has watched in sadness as the mature indigenous forests in the hills of Malawi’s Nkhata Bay and Mzimba Districts continue to disappear.
These forested hills are a primary factor in regulating the annual rainfall in the area and, frustratingly, deforestation here is pointless:
- The land is too steep and stony for farming.
- The hills are too remote for extracting firewood.
- Erosion caused by deforestation washes away any decent top soil left.
Just a handful of farmers are responsible for all this destruction through the practice of shifting cultivation. The practice is appalling, selfish, and illegal in Malawi. However, in the hills there is no regulation, so it continues unabated. The farmers:
- clear acres of forest
- burn the trees where they fall (as they are too remote to transport the wood)
- temporarily cultivate the land for just one to three years until crops fail – often they grow sorghum for beer
- render the soil infertile, and then
- move on and do it all again in another forested area.
Ripple Africa is doing everything it can to combat deforestation in Malawi on all fronts. However, Ripple Africa’s Forest Conservation project is special as it is saving the forested hills responsible for regulating much of the rainfall in the District. With 90% of the population in Malawi getting their food from subsistence farming, rainfall and climate stability are not just issues for environmentalists, they are inextricably linked to poverty, health, and survival for local people.
The aim of the Forest Conservation project is to preserve the forested hills of Nkhata Bay and Mzimba Districts before they are lost forever.
What We Have Achieved
How We Work
The Project's Future
Natural regeneration of trees since
the forest has been protected
Forest Conservation Committees educate the community to protect the forest
Conservation Committees patrol the
hills to ensure trees are not cut down
This project addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals: