Government urges African Parks to employ locals

Mangochi, Governmenthas urged African Parks Malawi to consider employing local communities around Mangochi Forest Reserve as the international conservational organization will be implementing various projects in managing the facility.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Werani Chilenga made the call on Tuesday at Balakasi Village in the area of Senior Chief Jalasi in Mangochi when government officially handed over the management of Mangochi Forest Reserve to the African Parks Malawi for the next 20 years.

He said employing local communities would, first and foremost, help in reducing poverty levels that come due to high unemployment rate in the areas around the reserve.

Government will always prioritize the needs of local communities and I am pleased to note that African Parks is ready to work with existing community committees and will continue to build engagement platforms for the voices of the locals to be heard, Chilenga explained.

The Deputy Minister noted with appreciation that African Parks will fence the entire reserve to protect communities and their crops from elephants and other wild animals.

He assured the communities that the handover of the forest reserve did not mean that government had ‘sold’ the forest to the African Parks but rather to make sure that the forest is well managed on government’s behalf so that everyone should enjoy fruits of the facility.

Chilenga appealed to traditional leaders, senior chiefs and the communities at large to provide support and a conducive environment to the African Parks for successful implementation of projects aimed at effective management of the forest reserve.

African Parks Country Director, Patricio Ndadzera commended government for giving the entity mandate to protect the Mangochi Forest Reserve, describing the development as being ecologically connected to Liwonde National Park through a wildlife corridor.

He said just like they had done with other wildlife reserves in the country such as Liwonde, Majete and Nkhotakota, African Parks Malawi would also take proper care of the Mangochi Forest Reserve.

Ndadzera disclosed that the organization would invest US$5 million (about K3.7billion) into the first phase of managing the forest reserve.

The project has already started and about 70 kilometres of wire fence has already been erected, he pointed out adding that, We are planning to construct lodges in the forest to attract tourists and this will, in turn, help us boost the country’s economy.

Ndadzera added that the African Parks would bring the big five animals in the forest.

District Commissioner for Mangochi, Rev. Moses Chimphepo applauded communities around the forest for welcoming the development, saying it would help in restoring nature for the betterment of people’s lives.

African Parks is managing 15 parks in nine African countries namely; Malawi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and Benin.

Source: MANA Online