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President Dr Lazarus Chakwera says traditional leaders play a vital role in forest governance by enforcing rules to protect forest landscapes in their areas since they are highly respected by their subjects.
Speaking when he presided over the first National Chiefs Forum on Natural Resources Management and Transition to Sustainable Agricultural and Livelihoods in Malawi at Lilongwe Botanic Garden today, Dr Chakwera said chiefs should help in curbing lawlessness by directly engaging citizens and facilitating behaviour change to ensure forest depletion is completely brought to an end.
The Malawi leader expressed his gratitude following a call to action by the chiefs which he believes has a powerful voice and called for its proper implementation to put to rest environmental degradation, adding that government is committed to restoring the degraded landscape.
Minister of Local Government, Unity and Culture, Richard Chimwendo Banda said the country cannot make any meaningful progress if chiefs are not involved in decision making, saying they are the ones who live with people on the ground and have primary control on them and are in a better position to protect natural resources which exist in their areas
Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Dr Michael Usi said during the forums long day session held on Wednesday, chiefs greatly contributed meaningful ideas for sustaining the environment.
He said onwards, his ministry will be working with chiefs through the forum to deal with illegal charcoal production through production of bamboos and mass production of briquettes to act as alternative sources of fuel and flood the markets at a cheaper price.
According to Inkosi Ya Makosi Gomani V, chiefs have developed a call to action, expressing their commitment towards protecting and sustaining the environment by among others, establishing by-laws, dealing with encroachment in protected forests, sensitising communities on sustainable agriculture and soil conservation, protecting water resources and promoting regeneration of forest resources.
Speaking earlier, Chairperson of the main organising committee, Professor Sosten Chiotha said chiefs need to protect the environment for it's sustainability and ensure that future generations benefit from it.