The Implication of Covid-19 on Forest in Malawi
The rate of deforestation and degradation of forests in Malawi has been remarkably high as a result of high dependency on forests for cooking fuel, expansion of agriculture and population growth. Similarly, forests in Malawi are a source of livelihood, as well as safety nets for rural communities in times of unanticipated scarcity of food or as gap fillers during regular seasonal shortfalls of food supply. The forest sector also supports agriculture which is the backbone of the economy in various ways such as in soil erosion management, soil fertility improvement, and water flow regulation. These have made the forest sector key in economic growth and poverty alleviation in Malawi, which is among the world’s poorest countries. Hence, the forest sector in Malawi is of great importance to sustainable livelihood and development. However, the high dependence on forests particularly among rural households is prone to exacerbate deforestation and degradation of forests in the COVID-19 pandemic era. This is so because Malawi, just like in other parts of the world has experienced a decline in household income and loss of jobs as a result of the pandemic, leading to increased pressure on forests, especially among forest-dependent households. This study looked at the implication of COVID-19 on the forest sector in three ways; the demand and supply of forest products as well as forest management, by reviewing relevant literature. The review showed that the COVID-19 precautionary measures such as restriction of movement and closure of border disrupted the supply chain of forest resources, which resulted in a demand shortage. Also, the ‘work from home” measure, which keeps forest guard away from forests increasing the exploitation of forest and forest conservation training programmes as well as impedes tourism to forest reserves. Therefore, the knowledge of the implication of COVID-19 on Malawi’s forest is core in building a resilient and sustainable post-COVID-19 economy.
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