Comprehensive Policy and Legal Framework Vital for Combating Forestry and Wildlife Crimes in Malawi

Author(s)

Lloyd M’bwanam MARAVIPOST

Date Published

The participants to the just ended a day conference on forestry and wildlife governance in Malawi have emphasized the need for the country to have comprehensive and coherent policies and laws which will help in combating forestry and wildlife crimes in a bid to realize benefits that come along with its sustainability.

The calling comes amid heels of numerous challenges the two sectors are facing including delays in development and review of related policy and legal frameworks, unrealistic penalties on offences committed, limited implementation of legislation resulting in huge crimes, limited harmonization of policy frameworks in the sectors and limited accountability and transparency in the revenue collected from forestry and wildlife products.
With the theme titled, “combating forestry and wildlife crimes through strengthened policy and legal processes”, the conference which was held in the capital Lilongwe organized by Center For Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) in collaboration with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC) and ICCF Group among others, drew participants from researchers, member of parliament, media, government officials to map the way forward on formidable legal frameworks for meaningful sustainability of the two sectors.
Participants to the conference observed that the country has vibrant policies and laws but the challenge lies in their implementation whose impact is stalling of developmental projects towards alleviating people’s social economic problems facing daily.
The Maravi Post caught up with William Chadza CEPA’s Executive Director who emphasized the need for the country to have vigorous laws which will fast truck implementation of various projects on forestry and wildlife which according to him still remain beneficial to the masses as their sources of energy, water and food.
“With the action plan developed collaboratively on how to monitor implementation of the various recommendations towards sustainability of forestry and wildlife sectors, definitely the populace will continue enjoying their natural resources.
“What remain are formidable laws and policies to invigorate the action plan towards sustainable ways of managing these crucial sectors.
People are still cutting trees carelessly, poaching wild animals mercilessly which has resulted into scarcity of some species that are endemic to Malawi. Thus, this has to be controlled through collective effort with comprehensive laws and policies”, emphasized Chadza.
Speaking on the same, Alex Major, MPCC Deputy Chairperson backed the use of Malawi Defense force in guarding forest reserves such as Dzalanyama though expensive saying was a temporary measure with outstanding output which according to him more resources were supposed to be mobilized for the same course.
“Although MK7.5 million has been spent already on conservation of Dzalanyama forest reserves, this is temporal measure with outstanding out though it’s expensive to sustain. As the committee, we still support the initiatives as it’s in line with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which MDF signed with government in 2007.
While we are looking other sustainable ways of managing our forests such as co-management, the use of the military can be maintained as long as resources are available”, agrees Major.
In its presentation, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust backed the Malawi government on the decision to burn ivory which Tanzania government obtained an injunction stopping the country implementing the plan.
The Trust observed that if Malawi was to sell the ivory through the black markets, the money could never be re-invested back into the country, because is breaking international law and the repercussions for any Government choosing to break international law would be catastrophic.
“The confiscated ivory must be burnt completely because there a number of reasons including no security costs, prevent leakages into the illegal market, avoid international embarrassment and send a message of zero tolerance on wildlife crime.
“Destroying ivory stock piles sends a clear message that the ivory trade is not to be tolerated, and with an increasing number of countries destroying their ivory stockpiles it shows a clear and unified voice to demand countries (those using ivory in mainly Asian countries) that ivory is not for trade.
“Maintaining stockpiles sends mixed messages to consumers, traffickers and speculators, and is a source of discord between Range States, which risks prolonging the poaching crisis. The international media attention of destruction events will strengthen demand reduction efforts to reduce the market for illegal ivory and thereby reduce the poaching”, outlines Jonathan Vaughan of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.