Malawi is one of the world's least-developed countries
Its economy is based on subsistence agriculture and over 90
percent of its population is rural
According to the U.N. FAO, 34.4% or about 3,237,000 ha of
Malawi is forested,
Of this 28.9% ( 934,000 ) is classified as primary forest, the most
biodiverse and carbon-dense form of forest.
Malawi had 365,000 ha of planted forest.
Malawi Forest Figures
Forest Cover Total forest area: 3,402,000 ha
% of land area: 36.2%
Primary forest cover: 1,132,000 ha
% of land area: 12.0%
% total forest area: 33.3%
Deforestation is a serious problem in Malawi.
Between 1990 and 2005, the country lost nearly 13
percent of its total forest cover due to fuelwood
collection and subsistence and commercial agriculture.
Tobacco farming, which accounts for nearly 80 percent
of the nation's export earnings (Trade Environment
Database: Malawi Tobacco Industry and the
Environment), is sometimes blamed for deforestation,
but perhaps more importantly, it saps the country's
CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION
Logging: Logging is the cutting, on-site processing
and loading of trees or logs onto trucks or skeleton
Urbanization: Trees are chopped for construction of
roads. Overpopulation also affects forest covers, as
with the expansion of cities more land is needed to
establish housing and settlements.
Forest fires: Hundreds of trees are lost each year due
to forest fires in various portions of the world which
lead to huge loss of forest cover.
EFFECTS OF DEFORESTATION
Increase in Global Warming: Trees play a major role in
controlling global warming. With constant deforestation the ratio of
green house gases in the atmosphere increases.
Soil Erosion: With the clearance of tree cover, the soil is directly
exposed to the sun, making it dry and easy erosion.
Floods: When it rains, trees absorb and store large amount of
water with the help of their roots. When they are cut down, the
flow of water is disrupted and leads to floods in some areas and
droughts in other.
Wildlife extinction: Due to massive felling down of trees, various
species of animals are lost. They lose their habitat and forced to
move to new location. Some of them are even pushed to
Increased siltation of rivers and lakes has had a chain reaction
on the environment.
Siltation in relation to over-fishing has reduced the number of fish
in lake Malawi.
Deforestation has left land susceptible to gully formations.
Droughts have increased periodically due to the disruption in the
process of rain formation trees play.
SOLUTIONS TO DEFORESTATION
The best solution to deforestation is to curb the felling of trees, by
employing a series of rules and laws to govern it.
Clear cutting of forests must be banned. This will curb total
depletion of the forest cover. It is a practical solution and is very
The cutting must be replaced by planting young trees to replace
the older ones that were cut. (afforestation)
Connecting the 80% of the rural Malawian households (Malawi
Facts and Figures) that still use wood or charcoal to sustainable
and alternative fuel sources.
Re-afforestation in rural communities may not be well advised and
Boosting hydroelectric power can be challenging due to lowering
water table that is caused by deforestation along catchment areas
The reliance of fish for protein by the lakeshore communities has
had a major set back over the years. As a result of large-scale
soil erosion due to deforestation, the lake is suffering from siltation
which together with over-fishing has caused the fish stacks to
In the 1970s, the average consumption of fish was 14kg per
person per year but that has gone down to 4kg per person per
End result is malnutrition and stunted growth.
Political interference on policy enforcement as of the case during
the change from a one party system to a multiparty system and
democracy in 1994. the people believed that they had their
freedom to do what they liked.
Malawi will not be able to export exotic tree species for economic
Sawyers and charcoal traders will be left stranded as to what
trade they should join when the trees become scarce
SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION
Interventions involve establishing small-scale infrastructure such
as terraces, check dams, infiltration trenches, and contour bunds
along slopes and hillsides for the purposes of regulating water
flow during heavy rains to prevent intense erosion and gully
The check dams and terraces reduce the force of water flow
downslope while the infiltration ditches and contour bunds absorb
and accumulate soil and water.
Agriculture technologies refer to any type of intercropping of trees
Examples include: conservation agriculture, farmer-managed
natural regeneration and agroforestry
Trees on croplands stabilize the soil and improve soil fertility
RIVER AND STREAM BANK
River- and stream bank-restoration focuses on establishing
buffers of trees along streams and river courses to stabilize the
soil, either through active planting or natural regeneration.
Benefits include; decreased soil erosion and sedimentation into
waterways, which in turn improves water quality and quantity.
More than 36,000 hectares in Malawi are suitable for river- and
The forest management restoration intervention includes three
types of activities:
1) Protection of existing forest (e.g., implementing fire prevention
and control, and enforcing restrictions on tree cutting)
2) Natural forest management (e.g., natural regeneration and
enrichment plantings to encourage regrowth of natural forest)
3) Improved forest plantation management for sustainability,
profitability, and efficiency
COMMUNITY FORESTS AND
Community forests (such as village forest areas) and woodlots
are areas of customary or private land set aside and managed for
wood and non-wood products.
They may be managed by a traditional authority, community, a
family or an individual.
Can provide a regular, local supply of products (e.g., poles,
timber, fuel wood, fruit, etc.) for house consumption or for sale.