Previous PageTable Of Contents

13.0 Conclusion

There has been a net decline in forest lands over the last two decades especially on customary land. This trend is continuing at the rate of 1.6 % per year. The main causes of deforestation and forest degradation are uncontrolled tree felling for fuelwood for curing tobacco in the smallholder and estate sectors, opening up of new gardens and farming areas, firewood for commercial purposes, infrastructure development and shifting cultivation. Protected forests have overall been effective in conserving biodiversity, but there is growing pressure for cropland and wood fuel.

Demands on forest and tree resources are increasing in intensity and diversity over time as population increase and some portion of the population become affluent. Some of the main demands from forests and tree resources are forest services, non-timber forest products, wood energy, industrial forest products.

Malawi’s forests and provide about 94 percent of the country’s energy requirement for industrial and domestic uses. Currently there is a deficit of 10.8million m2 and increasing. With wood fuels providing 94 % of energy in the country and no viable alternatives in site, the ever-increasing demand for wood fuel will have a very profound effect on forestry sector. The impact may not necessarily be negative. The increasing demand for wood fuel could spur tree growing activities in the rural areas for sale, especially if the pricing policy was conducive to tree planting.

The forestry sector will experience increasing influence from national, regional and international policies that are guiding forest development worldwide. Increasing globalisation, concern for climate change and interest in preserving biodiversity are the global themes that will play an important role in shaping forestry sector in Malawi. Nationally, the key influences will include economic growth, population growth, land use change especially deforestation, changes in social dimensions and the evolution of policies within and outside forestry sector.

By far, the two key determinants of the future of forestry appear to be the developments that will take place in agriculture and energy sector.

The forest outlook for Malawi in the next decade has great potential to meet the social, economical and environmental needs of the country and the international community. The future of forest lands will be determined by the ability of planners to provide more benefits from forests than from clearing forests for crop production. Collaborative forest management has promising prospects for meeting both local needs and global interests of biodiversity conservation and mitigation of climate change.

The major role that technology could play and affect the forestry sector should be kept in mind. Technological changes could improve wood processing efficiency and reduce waste, other forms of energy could became available thereby reduce pressure on wood fuels, new products could replace wood products and there could be more innovative and efficient ways of producing food thereby releasing some land for other uses rather than crop production.

Maintaining the balance between local needs and international expectations, between development and environmental conservation will be the major challenge in the next two decades. Any policy decision made on the management of these resources will have mainstream stakeholders ever growing needs.



Previous PageTop Of Page