Community effort results in charcoal confiscations

Monday, 10 June 2019

Choma Hill Forest Conservation committee members, with support from the Forestry Department, mounted roadblocks and 60 bags of charcoal and 22 push bikes were confiscated.

A further 42 bags of charcoal and 14 push bikes and were confiscated by Choma Hill in another joint effort.

Confiscation of 42 bags of charcoal and 14 bikes Confiscation of 42 bags of charcoal and 14 bikes

In Malawi, over 95% of the population cook using wood or charcoal. Now, we already know that our Changu Changu Moto fuel efficient cookstoves use only a third of the firewood that a traditional three stone open fire uses. However, people living in more urban areas use charcoal for their cooking fires, which is illegal and very expensive.

Firewood harvested for commercial purposes is largely sourced illegally from forest reserves and, almost without exception, wood for charcoal production is harvested illegally. Across much of Malawi, demand for firewood and charcoal is driving deforestation and forest degradation.

Charcoal production causes extensive deforestation and Choma Hill has been devastated by charcoal burning with some areas left with no trees at all. Choma Hill is a large wooded area on the outskirts of the city of Mzuzu and is the only forested area near the city where firewood can be found. As it is not designated a national park, Choma Hill has no legal protection from the Government and a thriving charcoal industry is threatening the forest.

Deforested Choma Hill Deforested Choma Hill

The local communities around the hills recognise that there is a real need to address this issue and they want to ensure that their forests are protected and that new trees are planted to ensure that there are sustainable wood sources. Through funding we extended our Forest Conservation project to the Choma Hill area. There are 63 Forest Conservation committees, run by community members, working with local Chiefs introducing new bylaws to protect Choma Hill from further deforestation and encourage regeneration of already deforested areas. Much time has been invested in carrying out project briefing meetings to ensure collaboration with the local Forestry Department and District Senior Chiefs, as well as undertaking community project awareness campaigns in villages surrounding Choma Hill.

A further 60 bags of charcoal and 22 bikes confiscated A further 60 bags of charcoal and 22 bikes confiscated

There is considerable local interest in protecting the hills here as there are very few forested areas left near Mzuzu. The community and farmers are working well together to continue the success of this project and these confiscations will send a powerful message to the charcoal producers.

Read more about our environmental work here