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Senior Forestry Officer, Planning

Forestry Division
Department of Forestry, Conservation and Land Use Planning
P O Box 774, Maseru 100 - Lesotho


1.1. Geography and climate

Lesotho is a landlocked country entirely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. The total land area is 30,355 km2 and the country is predominantly mountainous with approximately 73% of land over 2,000 m altitude. Four broad geographic zones are distinguished (see table) and the landform soil. Climatic and vegetation characteristics of these zones largely determine their land use.

Geographic Zones


Area (km)

Area (%)

Attitude (m)













Senqu Valley




Source: Lesotho National forestry Action Programme (after May, 1994)2

The main agricultural land-uses are maize, sorghum, beans, peas and wheat (in the lowlands) and grazing (in the mountains and the foothills). The range-land accounts for over 60% of the country's land use while the cropland covers only 25% of the land.

The mountains ranges have a general north-south orientation and consist of rolling to hilly terrain often exceeding 3,000m altitude, dissected by the deep valleys of the Senqu river and its tributaries. The western edge of the zone is characterised by a steep escarpment cut by deep valleys. The basalt derived soils of the plateaux and slopes are dark coloured and relatively well structured and fertile. Sheetwash and erosion is common, particularly on overgrazed range and cultivated land.

The foothills are a transitional zone of land with dominantly moderate slopes, and outlying hills. Yellowish red soils derived from sand-stones are dominant. with some black, basaltic, soils.

The lowlands comprise dominantly gently sloping plains interrupted by raised sandstone plateaux bounded by steep sandstone escarpments. The soils, which are derived from sand-stones and shales, are variable but are generally of low chemical fertility and poor structure (NFAP GOL, 1996). The lowland area is particularly prone to erosion which is exacerbated by long term inappropriate land use, Gullies or 'dongas' which are a prominent feature of the landscape.

The Senqu valley is characterised by a gently sloping alluvial plain and steep side-slopes.

Lesotho has a cool sub-tropical climate with summer rainfall (at least 75% of rainfalls between October and March for most stations). Temperature is mainly determined by altitude. The mean annual minima vary from 11°C at 1,750 m to 4°C at 3,000 m (Berding 1984). Extreme minima are as low as 20°C in the mountains. Mean annual precipitation varies from 600 mm in the far western lowlands to more than 1,100 mm in the eastern highlands. Although the Senqu Valley lays in the rain-shadow of the Maluti mountains it is significantly drier with an annual total of 500-600 mm.

1.2. Economic background

Preliminary estimates indicate that the economic activity has finally resumed its long-run rate of growth following three years of economic boom. Real GDP which grew by 12.7 percent in 1996, has slowed down to 3.5 percent.

Employment and Wages: Comprehensive data on employment which was last collected in 1985 / 86 through a Labour Force Survey and 1986 Population Census continue to be the basis for estimates of the current labour market statistics. A recent population census was conducted in 1996 but the results are yet published. Available data on the employment situation in Lesotho is mainly for the formal sector and this makes it impossible to estimate the rate of unemployment or under employment. The Government remains the largest employer in the formal sector in Lesotho (9%). At the end of 1997, the number of people employed by the government was 34 880. This was an increase of 3.9 percent compared to the l996 figure of 33 485. This comprises the civil servants, teachers daily paid workers and armed forces. The Lesotho National Development Co-operation (INDC) is the second employer in the formal sector. In 1996, employment generated by LNDC assisted firms was estimated at 17 023. 15% of the workforce works as migrant workers in South Africa. The rest of the labour force either is unemployed or engaged in subsistence agriculture. About half of the population lives below the poverty line

Tax Collection: As a percentage of GNP, total receipts are projected to increase from 39.7 percent in the previous fiscal year to 42.2 percent during the review period. This trend emanates from the Government's on-going policy of improving revenue collection.

Prices: Price movements in Lesotho are greatly influenced by price developments in South Africa. Annual inflation rate in South Africa ended the year at 6.1% and given the almost parallel movement of prices in the two countries. Lesotho's inflation rate is expected to remain in the single digit in 1998. Also, if the good rains experienced during early January and mid-February continue in subsequent months, then the inflation rate is expected to decline even further as food prices are expected to drop. Food indices were affected by the rise in prices of staple food (maize meal, sorghum, jungle oats).

Economic Policy: The policy of the Government of Lesotho through actions consistent with other policies and development goals is to ensure that optimal conditions are created so that the following are adequately addressed:

sustainable human development with a focus on poverty reduction,

appropriate roles for the public and private sectors,

public participation in development

gender issues,

regional economic co-operation,

public finance, and

development of the financial sector and disaster management.

1.3. Social and human context for forestry

This report is putting the Lesotho Forestry Division's position into perspective. It cannot be over emphasised that there is usually a very great difference in how the "need" for trees is perceived by individuals living in rural Lesotho, and how this "need" is perceived by officials and Donor Agency Representatives.

Among officials, perceptions on forestry have ranged from:

"Lesotho is virtually treeless and it is obvious that rural Lesotho needs very large numbers of trees for cooking food, constructing houses and keeping warm in winter"; to:

"Lesotho has always been virtually treeless and, as a result it has developed traditional lifestyles which do not involve a major need for trees".

Those officials who have advanced the second case have asserted the fact that Lesotho has never had significant numbers of wild, indigenous trees and that its overall environment is simply not suitable for growing trees successfully.

The extent to which additional trees are required for produce is not only determined by the numbers, accessibility, rates of growth and sustainability of existing trees but also by the perceptions of the effort and costs involved in growing the additional trees and of the attractiveness of alternatives. In this regard, it has to be kept in mind that no determination has ever been made of the number, accessibility, rates of growth and sustainability of existing trees and shrubs nation-wide or in any area in Lesotho.

The policy statement of the Department of Conservation forestry and Land use Planning (DCFL) stresses that the role of Government is to support local people in beneficially managing their own natural resources. DCFL's policy expands to the concept of food security to include food and fuel which covers the following specific needs:

conserve productive land,

rehabilitate degraded land and conserve water resources,

use land appropriately, and plan its use. and

increase the contribution of trees to livelihood security and environmental protection.

The MoA policy objective of food security can be expanded to include fuel security. The fuelwood deficit at the household level is particularly serious in the mountains, which have the lowest tree cover and which currently achieve much less forestry extension support than the lowland areas. With commitment to strengthen research and extension in the mountains there is an opportunity to make a significant contribution to this policy goal. Women will particularly benefit from improved access to fuelwood as the burden of carrying wood over long distances will be reduced.

People may be willing to plant trees, but often lack the resources to manage them efficiently and profitably. Through enhanced training and extension efforts by the Forestry division and NGOs. and a reliable supply of seedlings, either from GOL or private nurseries, this opportunity may be exploited.

Similarly with the recognition that tree and livestock production are not necessarily incompatible, opportunities exist for the development of silvi-pastoral systems with controlled grazing and exclusion at key periods, such as when seedlings are becoming established.


The Forestry Division is currently engaged in activities in the fields of social forestry research, and utilisation and development.

The main thrust of the social forestry programme is directed through a GTZ supported project which is active in the Districts of Maseru and Mafeteng. The programme supports farmers in tree planting through training provision of tools (through credit loans) and apply of seedlings (free, within certain limits). The project also supports selected farmers in the establishment of micro nurseries providing a subsidy covering 75°o of the costs of the inputs (up to Makoti 2.500). ''his subsidy is regarded as a measure to launch the enterprise which should later be economically self supporting.

The main activity under forest research is the monitoring of permanent sample plots (IPSPs) which are located in every woodlot in the country. The purpose is to monitor the performance of different tree species at different sites. Information can be used to update recommendations on suitable tree species for different areas and to construct tariff tables based on wood volume. Silvicultural trails are being conducted and the Division maintains a national tree seed centre. The National Tree Seed Centre, which also falls within the Research Section and the district nurseries are important sources of planting material.

Forest utilisation activities will be scaled down with the proposed privatisation of woodlots). An inventory of standing timber stocks in each of the reserves has been completed already Gol has established a National Tree Planting day to promote awareness of the value of trees as sources of fuel fruit and possible income, and for environmental protection. While this is a valuable initiative, the timing of the day in March is inappropriate as it may coincide with the onset of frosts, particularly in the mountain areas.


3.1. Land ownership

Lesotho's traditional system of Land tenure is formerly defined within the laws of Lerotholi. The laws of Lerotholi are partly codified customary laws and partly regulations made by or at the direction of the colonial government by Basutoland National Council from 1905 to 1959. The Lerotholi laws continue to be widely followed in the rural areas though most of them have been superseded by modern legislation.

Traditionally all land and associated rights to land use are voted: every Lesotho citizen is entitled to three fields suitable for farming. If possible one of the fields would be of a better quality than the other. Once allocated the fields are retained by the farmer for as long as he wishes. If however he fails to either cultivate them properly or completely fails to cultivate them for a period of two years then in theory the fields can be repossessed and reallocated.

The system worked well as long as there was enough land to satisfy the demand. With population increase the system comes under pressure (Scnckane 1990). The first and the notable change was the introduction of the land Husbandry Act of 1969. In which the Minister of Agriculture receives the power to make regulations for improving the use of agricultural land and water resources. It attempted to deal with a number of issues relating to the management of land. This act provided for the delegation of power to the chiefs to enforce the regulations proclaimed by the Minister.

Forestry activities and the status of tree ownership are governed by the laws of Lerotholi and Forest Act of 1978. The latter however, was enacted mainly to support the development of woodlots of Forest Reserves and does not cater for ownership of trees by communities or individuals. A new Forest Act was drafted in 1996 in response to the policy changes proposed in response to the policy changes proposed in the National Forestry Action Programme of 1996.

The draft forestry was discussed and agreed upon at a forestry workshop in Mohale's Hock in July - August 1996, but it has yet to he enacted by parliament. It places tree ownership in the lands of the individual or group who planted the tree. It also empowers the Ministry of Agriculture through the Chief Forestry Officer (CFO) to transfer ownership trees forest plantations or indigenous forest to groups or individuals for a specified period and subject to certain terms and conditions.

3.2. Natural vegetation

The natural vegetation of Lesotho is dominated by grassland and by indigenous shrubs in some mountain areas. Although the present vegetation is regarded as a sub-climax resulting from human interference and modification, it is unlikely that large areas of Lesotho were ever covered by forest or woodland in the recent past. However, some pockets of' closed evergreen forest in inaccessible parts of the lowlands and foothills suggests that forest cover was previously more extensive than at present (NFAP; GOL 1996).

3.3. Planted forest resources

Much of the present woody biomass stocks in the country result from planted trees. In the inventory that was carried out in 1993/94 there were still 10,362 ha of wood standing. In 1996/97 inventory however, this area had been reduced to 8,173 ha which means that within a period of 4 years an area of about 4,189 ha had been cut and not replanted. The purpose of the inventory was to estimate the area still cover.

This substantial forest resource is targeted for privatisation which is expected to generate revenue for communities and provide the opportunity for the woodlots to be managed in a more efficient and sustainable manner. The current distribution of woodlots by district is given below:

Distribution of Woodlots (SFRs)


Stocked area

(1995/96) (ha)

No. woodlots

0-20 ha

No. woodlots

21-50 ha

No. woodlots

>50 ha

Total woodlots





































Qacha's Nek












Mohale's Hoek


















Source Woodlot inventory carried out in 1995-96 by Forestry Division


At present wood is produced primarily for both fencing posts and fuelwood purposes. The annual production of posts is and fuel wood is sold through the following systems:

Wood Wholesaling: Here a forester measures and marks areas which are due for felling. The retailers would then come in and buy the wood (standing) at the wholesale price. These retailers can either be local individuals, communities or a business man who may not be a local person. This happens mainly in big woodlots which are far from villages.

Retail System: In this approach a forester sells wood in small quantities i.e. head loads, van loads, ox drawn carts or single logs pulled by either oxen, a horse or a group of men). This is common mainly in small woodlots adjacent to the villages.

Government Sales Yards: Here the sales yards managers buy wood from the foresters in charge which they later haul to the sales yard where it is processed (either for the production of treated posts or fuel wood).

Non Wood Forest Products (NWFP): The NWFP commonly found in Lesotho are thatching grass and medical plants which is done at specific times of the year. All medicinal plants growing in the forest reserves are by law protected and may not be gathered at any time.


5.1 Forest management and policy

Until recently, Lesotho had never had a formally approved policy for its forestry sectors. Despite the absence of a legal policy document the government had always assumed the leading role in the development and maintenance of forest resources since 1876. This continues to be the case..

''he official National Forestry Policy was approved in 1997 and that marked a radical shift in direction by putting a strong emphasis on the role of communities in forestry management. In this policy the government has firmly committed itself to local ownership of forest resource and to maximise the resource through actions consistent with other policies and development goals. The strategy adopted to approach these objectives is to focus support primarily at the village level through supply of planting materials and appropriate extension and training in tree planting and husbandry techniques.

The contributions forestry can make to the alleviation of poverty, livelihood security and environmental protection in Lesotho are the following:

Production and employment

Promotion and extension

Environment protection and bio-diversity conservation

Forest protection, management and people's participation

Public awareness education and trainers

Forest research

Gender issues in Forestry development

5.2. Guiding principles of the government

Commit to supporting the efforts and initiatives of local people to undertake tree and forestry related activities to provide for their own needs and benefits.

facilitate the tree planting and forestry endeavours of local people through:

establishment of legal environment including security of land and tree tenure;

provision of appropriate government services (research and extension).

Primary responsibility for the sustainable and beneficial management of Natural resources and the environment lies with individual and communities.

committed to the principle of free enterprise reflecting by permitting and supporting private sector development in all forestry activities.

Committing to local ownership of forest reserves, including the existing areas of state forest reserves as gazetted under the 1978 Forest Act; In consultation with communities the government will return the forest areas along with responsibility for their management and their benefits to the communities.

commits to co-operation with NGO initiatives in forestry activities.

5.3. Legal frame work

Land in Lesotho traditionally belongs to the people as a whole. The King as Head of State is vested with the responsibility of allocating land on behalf of the nation.

The Land Act of 1979 grants village development councils (NDCs) the authority to administer allocation of arable lands to individuals by issuing a permit known as "Form C". In so doing, it guarantees exclusive rights licenses falling short of an officially registered title. The land regulations of 1992 enable a 90 year lease to be taken out on land but this option is rarely applied to agricultural holdings.

Forestry activities and the status of tree ownership are governed by the laws of Lerotholi and the Forest Act of 1978. The latter, however, was enacted mainly to support the development of woodlots for ownership of tree by communities or individuals. A new Forestry Act was drafted in 1996 in response to the policy changes prepared in the NFAP of 1996. This draft has already been submitted to the parliament for approved. It is hoped that by the end of December this bill would have been enacted so that the prepared programmes may be implemented.

5.4. Investments in forestry and forest products

The 1978 Forest Act was not making it possible for companies to invest in Forestry because it was meant to support the development of woodlots or forest Reserves by either communities individuals or private organization. The present draft however paves way for the private sector to actively involved.

5.5. Institutional strengthening

The Forestry Division is one of three divisions (Department of Conservation, Forestry, and Land Use Planning) within in the Ministry of Agriculture, Co-operatives and Land reclamation.

The Division has recently been restructured to reflect the major role of social forestry in the divisional policy. There are four technical sections supported by units dealing with management and cartography.

The forestry Division has a complement of 11 technical professional posts (grade 6 and above), six of which are vacant and three of which have been transferred, three senior administrative staff (grade 7-10 and 71 support personnel. The Division is headed by a Chief Forestry Officer who reports to the Director of DCFL. The Principal Forestry Officer is currently acting in the Chief's position.

Superimposed on this structure are the three regional teams. These teams are organised at departmental level to coordinate delivery of technical backstopping and advisory services to the district agricultural offices. Each professional forester is assigned to a regional team. A forester heads the southern team. The other foresters are assigned between the central and northern teams.

The Division has a close functional linkage with the Soil Water and Nature Conservation Division who use tree planting as a method for donga and gully rehabilitation. Tree planting activities also feature in the community land use planning (CLUP) carried out by the Land Use Planning Division.

5.6. Environmental issues

The management of forest is to date not sustainable. In the case of established woodlots there has been continuously illegal felling over a period of 10 year since the woodlots were handed over to the Government. One of the many reasons for decline is that the government does not have the capacity in terms of personnel and capital to manage these forests. The reason why this is the case is that although the total area is only 12, 900 ha it comprises many woodlots (about 487 in number) scattered over a wide area. In most cases there are no roads leading to some of these woodlots. The proposed programme of handing over the management of these woodlots offers some hope for the sustainable management of these forests.

In the case of the individually and communally established forests the land tenure system, the laws of Lerotholi and the Forest Act of 1978 were making it impossible for the local communities and indeed even private companies to establish and manage forests sustainably. The new- Act has however paved the way for the private organisations and local communities to establish their own forests without any fear of using them at the later stage.


6.1. Projected demand

The requirements for energy are expected to increase by around 74% in 20 years (from 28,700 terajoules in 1990 to 50,125 terajoules in 2010). The most important sources of energy are firewood and dung (LEMP, l991). If present rates of fuel consumption remain constant, potential rural biomass energy use will have risen to almost two million tons by 2010 which is 0.5 million tons above the estimates for sustainable supply. In order to close this energy gap it would he necessary to plant approximately 120 000 hectares of additional woodlots up to 2010.

These targets have, however, not been realised in the last 10 years. Instead, the indigenous shrub-land and present woodlots have been over used which has lead to increasing the energy gap.

The above analysis does not include any provision for tree planting to replace dung as fuel. In 2010 it is estimated that 510,000 t of dung would be needed as combustibles (LEMP). To replace this amount of dung with firewood 305,000 t of wood are necessary. To meet this wood requirement an additional 64,000 hectares of forest must be estimated.

6.2. Projected supply

In order to address the above projected demand the Forestry Division in its position paper has proposed the introduction of a BONUS system as indicated below: The two options are indicative. The districts of Maseru and Mafeteng have been used in the sampling because they are the only ones with complete raw data available. Three important aspects are to be considered:

The extension service currently costs as much as the seedling production.

Half of the cost (wages) are covered by the Government of Lesotho.

The target group carries 18% of the costs, which are the costs for their work.

It is striking that the reduction of the costs in one section has only a small impact on the total amount of expenditure e.g. Lowering the production costs by 50% (M 1,00 / seedling) reduces the total amount by 18%.

The survival rate is of overriding importance. It is a mathematical factor which has a serious impact on the costs: 50% losses doubles the total expenditure.

Bonus System: An alternative can he considered if the GoL is prepared to cover almost the entire production and planting costs. The following assumption serves as a basis:

The planting material of M0.80 seedling and transport costs of M0.30 / seedling are paid by the GoL.

A bonus would be paid one year after tree planting if the survival rate of the plants is good. This amount, (incl. Seedlings, transport. bonus of M2.00/ seedling) would be paid to the farmer in parallel with the present seedling production costs in the government tree nurseries.

The price seedlings (M0.80) is 60% higher than the present level set by government for seedlings in private nurseries (M0.50).

The price of M0.80 could highly stimulate the establishment of private tree nurseries. Under such framework conditions the major seedling production will be undertaken by privately owned tree nurseries.


A lot of official studies and reports put a strong emphasis on the need to address the environmental problems and the energy requirements facing this country. Afforestation for environmental protection and fuel wood supply appear high in the list of strategies for addressing these problems.

The area which needs a lot of attention and official support is that of data collection and reporting. It is very difficult to make sound management decisions if there is not enough data available. It is very unfortunately that it has been very difficult to get reports from field foresters. Because of this short-coming it has not been possible to update FAO and other organisations' records pertaining to forestry developments.


Hall D. and Green T. 1989: Community Forestry in Lesotho: The People's perspective.

GOL, 1996: Lesotho National Forestry Action Programme.

GOL, 1997: The Lesotho National Development Plan.

GOL, 1997 / 98: The Lesotho Economic Background Paper.

GOL, 1991: Lesotho Energy Market Plan.

Sekaleli E. S. and 1997:Community Forestry in Lesotho: Possibilities and Constraints.

Sekaleli E.S. and Cwielong P. 1998. Position Paper of the Forestry Division on present and future Programmes.

Sekaleli E.T. 1996: Lesotho National Forestry Sector Cooperation Strategies.


Sam Kainja Kasizo Chirambo
Assistant Director of Forestry
Forestry Department
P.O Box 30048, Malawi


Malawi is a landlocked country with an area of 118,580 km2. The population of the country is estimated to be 10 million with a growth rate of 3.2% per annum. More then 85% of the population live in the rural areas practising subsistence farming.

Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita GDP of US $ 230 in 1991 and over 60% of the population is living below the poverty line.

The economy of the country is heavily dependent on smallholder rain fed agriculture, which is highly susceptible to the vagaries of weather. The structure of the economy has not changed much over the years since the 1970s. Agriculture still dominates the economy with over 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), providing employment and subsistence for over 80% of the population, contributing 85% of export earnings. The industrial sector accounts for an average of 20%. The services sector accounts for 41%.

Malawi became a pluralistic state in 1993 after a referendum. The first multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 1994 with the United Democratic Front (UDF) emerging victorious. The main opposition parties are the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD).


In Malawi, forests and trees meet the nation's requirements for fuelwood and poles and for most of the timber required for construction, joinery and board manufacture. Additionally, the existing plantations have the potential to meet the nations pulp and paper needs. The rural residents, who make the majority of the population, rely to a large extent on forests for fuelwood, poles and medicinal plants.

About 90% of the nation's energy requirements are satisfied by woodfuels derived from natural and planted forests and trees on farm. The 1993 estimate of per capita city-residents fuelwood consumption was 2.0 m3 while 1.1m3 was the average per capita rural fuelwood consumption. The population growth rate is 3.2% resulting in increased pressure to cultivate forests and meet growing energy requirements.


3.1. Land ownership

Land ownership in Malawi can be classified into four categories.

Public land is basically owned by government and used for protection as well as agricultural schemes. This land is set aside under the country's Land Act for use by the government.

Private/ Estate land is owned by individuals and companies after being leased from government. Private land is held as leasehold or freehold. This land is mostly used for growing tobacco and tea.

Traditional authorities (chiefs) control customary land. The chiefs allocate land according to traditional customs. It is normally passed from generation to generation.

Urban land belongs to the city and municipal councils. The legal system governs the activities on these lands.

The bulk of the land is used for agriculture followed by protection for wildlife and forests.

3.2. Natural forest resources

The natural forests are composed of protected areas such as Forest and Wildlife Reserves. Most of the natural forests are found in hilly areas. The hilly areas constitute the protected areas that represent half the remaining stocks of forest resources in Malawi. At the same time these areas make up almost 20% of the country's land area - land area which, regardless of suitability, has not been converted to agriculture. This is a result of the hilly areas being unsuitable for cultivation.

Forests on customary (flat) land are continuously being converted to agricultural land as a result of population increase. The forests are disappearing at the rate of 1.5 - 2% per annum. This is mainly due to increased poverty and dependence on woodfuel for energy and expansion for agriculture.

3.3. Planted forest resources

Pine plantations dominate the planted forests. The pine plantations are mainly used for supply of logs for timber sawing. The Eucalyptus plantations are used for the supply of firewood and poles for construction. Although the MAI has been estimated, in reality this estimation is not true due to the destruction of the majority of the plantations by forest fires.


In Malawi, the timber industry's present production of sawn timber is only around 45,000 m3 against an installed capacity of some 70,000 m3 (ignoring the pit-sawyers). Plywood production is around 7,000 m3 with a similar production level for blockboard and around 6,500 m3 of other wood based products - including gluelam.

Of the sawn timber, 65% is sold to the construction industry, 20% to the furniture and the rest is mainly used for packaging. Recent projections to the year 2010 have put the potential local market at 80,000m3 with respect to sawn timber and 40 - 45,000m3 for timber panels.

According to the Forestry Department's 1995 Wood Consumption figures, the formal industry consumes 1,200,000 m3 of industrial roundwood or poles. The country does not produce paper or paperboard. Malawi is having some success with exports of timber products, plywood, boards

and gluelam. These products are exported to the Republic of South Africa in particular.


5.1 Woodfuel and wood energy

Fuelwood is primarily produced to meet national consumption needs. About 90% of the country's energy requirements are derived from both natural and plantation forests. To this end, the government established 23,239 ha of eucalyptus plantations for the production of fuelwood and poles. The bulk of the wood is obtained from common property resources on customary land forests in addition to the wood from the fuelwood plantations. It was estimated in 1995 that about 11.7 million m3 are consumed as woodfuel in the form of wood and charcoal for both domestic and industrial purposes.

5.2. Non-wood forest products

Forests are a source of many non-wood forest products. These products include edible fungi (mushrooms), grass for thatching, medicinal plants, game, fruits, honey, insects, vegetables and other foods. Forests are also a habitat for a variety of fauna and flora.

5.3. Recreation and tourism

Apart from the supply of fuelwood and poles, forests play a vital indirect role in recreation and tourism. The forest reserves in Malawi provide high potential for recreation and tourism. To this end some tourism facilities such as guesthouses have been erected in some forest reserves such as Dzalayama and Ntchisi in the central region, Zomba in the Southern region and South Viphya in the northern region. According to the findings of PLUS 1998, forest reserves have the potential to attract 2,434 tourist per year with a potential revenue of US $ 145,635 per year (using Malawi multiplier US $ 60 per tourist).


6.1 Forest management law and policy

The Malawi Forest Act was approved by Parliament in April 1997. The Act provides for participatory forestry, forest management, forestry research, forestry education, forest industries, protection and rehabilitation of environmentally fragile areas and international co-operation. The Act also proposes the establishment of a Forest Development and Management Fund to be used by the villagers to undertake forestry management activities.

However, the Act contains stiffer penalties for people who contravene the provisions of the Act. The punishments range from paying fines of MK 2,000 to MK20000 depending upon the seriousness of the offence. In the event that the culprit fails to pay the fines, penalties of about 1 to about 5 years imprisonment are meted out.

The Malawi Forestry Policy which was approved by the Cabinet in 1996 advocates participatory community forestry. The goal of the policy is to sustain the national forest resources in order to increase the quality of life of the people in the country through conservation the forest resources.

Both the Forest Act and Forest Policy calls for the involvement of the private and public sectors in the management of the forest resources.

6.2. Investments in forestry and forestry products

The only investors in forestry are the tobacco and tea estates. These estates grow trees especially Eucalyptus for curing their tobacco and tea. However, the noticeable investors in forest products manufacture VIPLY, Wood Industries Corporation (WICO) and International Timbers Limited (ITL). VIPLY is a state owned company manufacturing blockboards, plywood and sawn timber for export and domestic consumption. WICO is a private company that produces both sawn timber and furniture for export and local consumption. ITL is also a private company that makes gluelam, plywood and blockboards for export and domestic use.

6.3. Institutional strengthening and capacity building

The successful implementation of the new Policy and Law requires a cadre of well-trained staff equipped with many new skills. However, the Forestry Department (FD) does not have adequate staff. Consequently, a massive effort has to be undertaken to reorient existing staff in participatory approaches and extension skills. The department needs to create additional extension capacity by bringing in NGOs.

Staff needs to be trained in technical aspects of forestry. Furthermore, the FD staffs need to improve their competence in the preparation of forest inventories and forest management plans from the national level down to the village level.

Due to insufficient financial resources the FD is unable to conduct training for its staff. Training is done by the FD and is solely dependent upon donor willingness to fund the department staff..

6.4. Environmental issues

The National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) was adopted after a participatory process in December 1994. The NEAP identified the critical environmental issues facing Malawi and the actions to take to address the resource degradation. Among the issues identified was Degradation of forest resources, degradation of water resources, and climate change.

In February 1996, the National Environmental Policy (NEP) was developed. The policy seeks among other things to:

Promote the efficient utilisation and management of natural resources; and

Promote cooperation between the government and local communities, women's groups, NGOs and the private sector in the management of the environment.

The Environmental Management Act passed by parliament in June 1996 establishes the institutional and legal framework for environmental management in Malawi.

6.5. Sustainable forest management

In an effort to manage the countries forests sustainably, the FD has embarked on empowering the communities to manage the forests and retaining part of the revenue realised from sale of the forest products. The communities capacity to manage the forests is built through training in different aspects of forest management. The FD is also encouraging formation of Village Natural Resources Committees (VNRCs) and creation of Village Forest Areas (VFAs).

Furthermore, the FD is reorienting its staff from the policing role to an extension & advisory role. The FD develops a comprehensive forestry extension service to promote and support large-scale community forestry and joint management with the local communities and NGOs.

6.6. Biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability

Malawi's biological diversity is very varied, in both terrestrial and aquatic habitants. Sixty-nine endemic plant species and an estimated 1000 endemic fish species have been identified (State of the Environment Report 1997). However, due to the pressures on all natural resources in the country, biological diversity is seriously threatened. Outside protected areas, the pressures from expansion of agriculture production and unsustainable harvesting have already resulted in

the extinction of many species and loss of inhabitants.

A number of measures are already in place to address the threats to biodiversity. These include public awareness programs. As a party to a number of international conventions some of which promote conservation of biodiversity, Malawi has a political obligation to formulate policies protecting its biological diversity and in particular the many endemic species.

In order to protect and manage Malawi's rich biodiversity in a sustainable manner, the government is promoting more viable income generating activities, in particular sustainable wildlife-based enterprises, for communities neighbouring protected wildlife areas. Development and implementation of policies and legislation that efficiently support effective land use planning in order to promote the conservation and sustainable utilisation of biological diversity is being done.

6.7. Soil and water conservation

Soil erosion and declining land productivity continue to be the greatest environmental problem in Malawi. This is especially pronounced in densely populated areas which are heavily cultivated and where landlessness is a common socio-economic feature.

The government and its partner organisations have initiated several responses designed to meet the problems. These include community based natural resources management initiatives and the development of innovative soil conservation technologies suitable for the country.

Malawi is rich in water resources that are stocked in its lakes, rivers and aquifers. All the water is replenished by rainfall falling in catchment areas, on the surface of the water bodies and in recharge areas for groundwater resources. In order to meet the demand for quality water in particular and enhance sustainability of the water resources in general, the government is addressing the major problems of unsuitable agricultural practices. It is also emphasising community awareness on the importance of catchment protection to enhance the availability of water in the country's rivers.

6.8. Indigenous people's issues

Unlike other countries there are no indigenous people. The major problem facing the people is the need for more land there by calling for the de-gazettment of some of the protected areas. This has been exacerbated by the rapid population growth.

6.9. Outlook for forest resources

According to PLUS 1998, based on the official estimates of wood consumption from the FD, the demand is increasing at the rate of 9.25% per year. The figure below shows the results of the analysis of sustainable supply and demand evaluated over time with the assumption that the changes year to year correspond to the rates available. The figure shows that sustainable supply will be exceeded by demand within the next three years. The pace of decline in sustainable supply from forests exceeds that of the national supply due in part to clearing for cultivation. The national supply is supplemented by the effect of fast-growing exotic trees on agricultural land and on government plantations. It is generally assumed that forest decline could reach a point that would dramatically impact the annual yields of trees on agricultural land as alternative wood sources become scarce (PLUS 1998) The bulk of the demand is related to fuelwood.


Malawi's forest resources play an important role in the lives of the people. They provide energy for cooking and heating and timber for construction. The forest resources are also a source of edible fungi, thatch and medicinal products. They also provide protection for catchments.

Protected areas represent over half the remaining stocks of forest resources in Malawi. At the same time these areas make up almost 20% of the country s land area. However, these protected areas face pressure from the people. There is increasing demand for land and the continuing demand for resources from the land. The demand for land is currently being assessed by the Land Policy Reform Programme. The people are calling for de-gazettment of some of the protected areas.

The demand for wood resources is increasing as a result of the population increase. It is predicted that demand for forest resources will exceed sustainable supply within the next three years.

2 The areas quoted here differ from those in the Sectoral Round Table Discussion Paper (MoA, March 1996). Neither report has a map showing area boundaries which would enable an area check to be carried out. As the figures in NFAP have defined altitudinal limits, they are regarded as being more reliable.

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