Sixty million tree planting along the main four rivers that rig water into lake chilwa
By Andrews Nchessie - Phalombe Teacher Training College
The climate action and sixty million tree plating is project that is working with 300 student teachers, 27 primary schools and a total of over 27 communities in establishing nursery beds, raising tree seedlings and plant them along the four main rivers that bring water into lake Chilwa. The aim is to replant the trees that have been wantonly cut down along the four main river that bring water into lake Chilwa and avoid the lake from drying again, a scenario that occurred in 2018.
The project inception
The project stated as student’s climate action project. The students worked on a number of climate action projects in the year 2018.First they worked on identifying environmental issues and risks and later worked on how to find a solution to the environmental issues and devised workable solutions to the projects. In that light one way of appreciating the effects of environmental issues was the visit to the dry lake chilwa in 2018.To the student’s horror, they found out lake Chilwa had dried completely.
I conducted a lesson right at the middle of the dry lake and the students and I strongly felt that since there was no water coming into the lake, it followed that the rivers had dried. In order for us to confirm, this we also undertook a visit to all the four rivers that bring water into the lake. The situation is catastrophic. All the rivers had dried. The trees along them have disappeared. It was clear that even the ecosystems had been destroyed as they were exposed to scorching sun.
As a way forward we agreed to plant trees along the four main rivers that bring water into lake Chilwa. Since it was in November.,2018 and that at that time it could not be possible to raise tree seedlings, I approached Mulanje conservation trust to supply us seedlings. We did not have a particular number in mind. They supplied the students with 1000 tree seedlings. These were planted in December 2018 during the rainy season. IN addition, 1000 fruit trees such as mango and oranges were sourced and planted. I am very pleased to report that the trees survival rate is over 99% . No single tree has died so far each student has been assigned tree and members of the climate action team are on daily basis taking care of the remaining trees by physically watering them and monitoring of the forest fires.
Press Trust and the supply of sixty Million Polythene tubes for tree planting
In February 2019, press trust donated desks mattress, beds and chairs. One of the trustees after visiting our climate action work, challenged the students and I on what we think we can do to address environmental issues.
We suggested that planting trees will ensure environmental sustainability. So it was agreed to address the issue of wanton cutting down of trees along the four main rivers that bring water into lake Chilwa. To this effect, I requested for the provision of polythene tubes amounting to 60,000,000. I promised to find the seed and soil in addition to raising 12,000.000 tree seedlings for the next five years’ yearly.
Koen Timers timely boost
Koen Timers introduced and exposed my students and I to climate action projects. My students undertook several projects and developed technologies that can actually be used to mitigate the impact of climate change. They developed early warning systems to floods, It through this activity that the current large scale programme is born, that’s the climate action and tree planting. We owe Koen a lot of thanks and appreciation
I met Koen in Dubai, 2019 and explained what has become as a result of the climate action project in Malawi. I explained and sincerely informed him of what are immediate needs are. The climate action and the sixty million tree planting project got a timely boost. In fact, there were many requirements that needed assistance. First there was need to acquire a drone that was to be used for taking aerial videos pictures, mapping and monitoring of the trees planted. secondly there was need to travel to the 108 primary school that are along the four main rivers that bring water into the lake and thirdly calling of a series of meetings to meet with stakeholders like the Malawi department of forestry, leadership for environment, primary school head masters, heads of sections and departments, education managers, district commissioners and the sub-Saharan VTA community via skype to explain the purpose of our programme. This is continuing taking place and let me be quick to say, we are but remaining with seven schools.
Very pleased to sincerely report that Koen, provided the financial resources that so far has been used to first purchase a drone, secondly, securing some 16 spots along the four main rivers where tree nurseries are being established meaning that there are four spots per river, thirdly, it has been used for hiring of a motor cycle to travel to the 108 primary schools to meet the head masters, section heads and head teachers and the 108 members of the communities.
On my part, I am contributing my food board and lodging where its necessary, refreshments for the teachers and members of the community and training expenses for the two drone operators which has already been done.
In light of implementing the Climate Action and Sixty Million Tree Planting Programme, it has also emerged that the tree planting programme will also go along with the Figure 1: Map of Lake Chilwa (Adapted from Kalk et al. 1979)
planting of other high value crops such as vegetables, sweet potatoes, soya beans and gowa beans.
The Climate action and the sixty Million Tree Planting Project Geographical Location and Coverage
Lake Chilwa is situated in the center of the low-lying Chilwa-Phalombe plain in the southern part of Malawi at 35°45' E and 15°15' S (Ratcliffe 1971). It is the second largest lake in Malawi and the twelfth largest natural lake in Africa. It an enclosed lake with a surrounding reed belt widest on the north and north-east side and a seasonally flooded plain.
The water is saline ranging from 1-2 % up to 12 % during minor recessions. Its open water area is around 678 km2, which is surrounded by about 600 km2 of Typha swamps, 390 km2 of marshes and 580 km2 of seasonally inundated grassland of floodplain. (Lake Chilwa Wetland Project 1999). These vary with the level of the lake in any year. The actual lake itself is Approximately 60 km long and 40 km wide, the lake is surrounded by extensive wetlands. There is a large island in the middle of the lake called Chisi Island.
The 1998 population census showed that the Chilwa basin had a population of 916,447 with a density of 162 per km2. The catchment area is about 8,349 km2 with 5,669 km2 located in Malawi and 2,680 in Mozambique (Lake Chilwa Wetland Project 1999).
The climate action ad sixty million tree planting programme is steadily progressing. Between now and December, 2019 we are in the battle to raise 12,000,000 seedlings. We are using every available assistance to ensure that this is done. We have an enormous task but it’s an honor. So I am appealing to every person on planet earth who can assist with just one tree that we plant here and that tree will be planted and taken care of