In the heavily forested country of Malawi, forest sizes have fallen from 41.4% in 1990 to less than 35% in 2010. The reasons for deforestation in Malawi are abundant. Trees are cut down and burned in place (commonly known as "slash and burn" agriculture) in order to increase farmland. Trees are harvested for projects requiring building materials like hardwood and timber. In addition, Malawi's population is growing, nearly doubling every ten years and 95% of Malawians still use wood and charcoal for cooking.
Although wood is an extremely important resource in Malawi, the country has not been diligent about managing their forests or replanting the trees they are cutting down. Because of this, deforestation remains a serious threat to their environment.
But Sr. Bertha Chigowani, a participant of ASEC's Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program, is working to change this. She believea that educating the Malawian youth about caring for the environment will provide hope for the future and stop the harm that's being done to their forests.
Students Planting trees in Malawi, Africa
The Cameroon government in collaboration with the ministry of education, are filling a great need in Malawi by teaching students how care for the environment. As an extension to last year’s tree planting day, 142 primary school leaners of standard 7 at Ntcheu Roman Catholic Primary School in Nicheu, Malawi translated what they learned in the classroom into skills by planting trees this year. Besides planting these trees, students also learned how to care for the trees. The students were motivated and encouraged by their experience and plan to take what they’ve learned and apply it at home.
Sr. Bertha Chigowani says that the skills she learned in ASEC’s SLDI program helped her to organize this event for the students. Sr. Bertha emphasized the need for us to become more like St. Francis of Assisi, the champion of caring for the environment, by maintaining our common home of Mother Earth. She adds,
“The environment is crying out to us to do something because of the harm we have inflicted on it by our irresponsible actions like cutting down of trees carelessly and charcoal burning… When we are maintaining the environment, it means we are carrying out responsibly the great work entrusted to us by God after the creation and as we do so, it is for our own advantage because we benefit more from it.”