Planted forests


Description of plantation resources


About 90 percent of Malawi's energy supply is derived from natural forests and plantations. Additionally, plantation forests have the potential to meet the country´s demand for pulp and paper. Approximately 90 percent of the plantations belong to the government (FD, 1998). The main objective is to meet domestic demand (FD, 1992).

Development of forest plantations

The establishment of government plantations started in the late 1920s (Nyirenda, 1998). A 1964 policy statement emphasised establishment of plantations to protect water catchments, fragile areas, flora and fauna and to ensure self-sufficiency in timber products (FD, 1992).

In 1975, a project to expand timber plantations was launched, aimed at establishing plantations in rural areas of nine afforestation units. By 1985, each area was supposed to have planted 250 ha of plantations annually (Anon., 1978).

In 1976, the National Tree Planting Programme was launched and various target groups planted over 155 million trees. This programme was initiated to raise the awareness of people about the importance of trees and forests (FD, 1995).

For several years at the beginning of last decade the total area of government plantations did not expand markedly, although harvested areas were regularly replanted (FAO, 1993).

Species composition

Pinus spp. are widely planted, mainly for a supply of sawtimber. Pinus patula and P. kesiya are preferred. Many Eucalyptus spp. are used to supply fuelwood and poles for construction (FD, 1992 and 1998).


The national timber supply is supplemented by fast-growing exotic species planted in government plantations on agricultural land. The bulk of the wood supplied is fuelwood.

The demand for wood resources is increasing as a result of increased population. Demand for forest resources will likely exceed sustainable wood supply in the near future (FD, 1998).

The range of tree species is narrow. There is an increasing drive to promote a diverse range of indigenous, exotic, agroforestry and fruit trees (FD, 1995).


Fire is a big problem, especially during the dry season. There is inadequate fire fighting equipment and manpower.

Due to the destruction of the majority of plantations by forest fires, data on mean annual increment are not reliable (FD, 1998).


Anon. 1978. Country report. In Eighth World Forestry Congress.

FAO. 1993. National Environmental Action Plan. Rome.

MFFEA-FD. 1992. National progress report on forestry 1989-1991 En Ninth session of The African Forestry and Commission, Kigali, Rwanda, August 10-14, 1992. Lilongwe, Forestry Department , Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs.

MFFEA-FD. 1995. Malawi progress report. In Tenth session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission. Sonbonani, South Africa, 27 November-1st december, 1995. Lilongwe, Forestry Department, Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs.

MFFEA-FD. 1998. Malawi Forestry Country Report. In Workshop on Data collection and analysis for sustainable forest management in ACP countries, Mutare, Zimbabwe, 30 November-4 december 1999. Lilongwe, Forestry Department, Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs.

Nyirenda, RWS. 1998. Functional and public expenditure review of the forestry department. Lilongwe, Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs.

last updated:  Tuesday, February 23, 2010