In a bid to protect forests from destruction, Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) has called for concerted efforts in the popularization of the amended Forestry Act of 2020.
CEPA seeks to ensure that everyone is aware of the offences and their penalties.
Alfred Kambwiri, Programmes Coordinator for CEPA, made the sentiments in Machinga during the orientation workshop for Police Officers, Judiciary, Agriculture and Forestry officials from the Districts of Balaka and Machinga to enlighten them on the new Forestry Law and enforcement procedures.
Kambwiri said the new Act is leaving no stone unturned as reports indicate that since the Act was amended some vehicles found transporting forestry products like wood and charcoal, have been impounded by the Police, owners arrested and charged.
He added that over 112 forestry crimes have been successfully tried in a court of law and wrong-doers convicted by the court.
Last year alone, 22 vehicles have been forfeited to Malawi Government after they were found transporting forestry produce illegally.
CEPA is working hand in hand with a consortium of organisations such as Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) and CISANET on a USAID funded project which is aimed at creating awareness on the new Forestry Act.
The Act was developed to increase transparency and accountability in the forestry sector, improve charcoal regulation, and enhance opportunities for public-private partnership.
The offences according to the new Act can attract a maximum fine of up to K10 million and a custodial sentence of up to 20 years.
By estimates, Malawi has lost over half of its forest cover in just 40 years.