H.E. Mr. George Mkondiwa, High Commissioner of Malawi to India

Let us join hands to minimize deforestation for the good of humanity

When God created our planet, he gave us biodiversity to sustain life. From time immemorial man has survived on forest fruits and honey. Man lived like this for millions of years. History tells us that the three-age system in the periodization of human history including pre-historic period were the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The Stone Age began about 2.6 million years ago, when researchers found the earliest evidence of humans using stone tools, and lasted until about 3,000 B.C. when the Bronze Age began. The Bronze Age was also a prehistoric period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. Having started 3000 BC, it ended in 1200 BC. The bronze period was followed by the Iron Age that covered a period between 1200 B.C. and 600 B.C. As man slowly moved through these periods with generation after another, he started to get civilized and this led to a lot of inventions. As they say man’s greatest invention was the wheel. 

While it must be appreciated that civilization as such was good for mankind, it also brought the dark side. Using the tools made of iron, man started cutting trees with axes made from iron and killing animals with an iron spear. As population increased, the felling of trees increased little by little. And so was the number of game that was disappearing from planet earth.

In recent years, the world has witnessed wanton cutting of trees never seen before. Environmentalists are worried with the pace of environmental degradation all over the world. Between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometers) of forest, according to the World Bank-an area larger than South Africa. Since humans started cutting down forests, 46 percent of trees have been felled, according to a 2015 study in the journal Nature.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, some serious environmental problems, including deforestation, soil erosion, and desertification, are becoming the order of the day. If unchecked these problems will lead to enormous challenges to humanity. Malawi, a country is southern east Africa sharing boundaries with Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, has not been spared from this vice.

With a population of 17.6 million according to the Malawi census 2018 report, and a land mass of 118,000 km2, the rate at which environmental degradation is taking place is alarming to say the least. In Malawi, deforestation is estimated to be responsible for the loss of 33,000 hectares per year, and is mainly attributed to agriculture expansion, tobacco growing, and excessive use of biomass, according to Susan Ngwira and Teiji Watanabe (2019). According to E Kalipeni (1992) also observes that deforestation, overgrazing, and overuse of land for subsistence, and increased population density have contributed to environmental degradation. Population growth places huge demands on natural systems with more land being converted to agriculture and more forests being harvested for the wood fuel supply, as per the World Bank report ( 2019).  At this rate, it is indeed a cause for concern for humanity especially considering Malawi’s annual population growth of 2.9%, according to the Malawi census 2018 report.

The cutting of trees in Malawi is in sharp contrast with India which has a population of 1.3 Billion. A number of cities in India are managing environmental degradation for the good of mankind. For example, Delhi is regarded as the greenest city of the world. Apart from Delhi, other Indian cities like Guwahati, Dehradun, Bhubaneswar, Shillong, and Shimla, offer an excellent green lifestyle. 

Realizing that if not checked, the situation would lead to disaster, the Government of the Republic of Malawi introduced a national tree planting season. This event has now become an annual event and every year the President leads the nation in planting of trees as one way of replenishing forests.

Other countries should emulate what Malawi and Indian cities are doing in controlling deforestation to make the world a better place to live. This would be in keeping with the concept of “Better Future for Our Planet, For Humanity.”

His Excellency, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, planting a tree to mark the launch of the 2020/2021 National Forestry season at Tukombo Primary School in Nkhata Bay district in Malawi

Malawi plants 60 million trees in 202/2021 national tree planting season

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