The humanities department has this term been working on a project to enhance public awareness on deforestation. The main purpose of the project was to create awareness among the students on the degree, causes and effects of deforestation both locally and globally. This project involved students from both high school and middle school. The focal person in Middle school was Mr. B. Munthali while in High school it was handled by Mr. H. Kachamba.
The first phase of the project involved the creation of posters containing messages about deforestation. These posters were posted in different points in the school campus. The target group for these posters was the students, parents and all the members of staff at Mount Sinai International School.
Students’ posters displayed in the school campus
The posters managed to attract attention amongst the students’ community as the majority of students became curious and more interested to know more about the concept. With time, a project which started with only 9 students grew and had the participation of over 30 students.
The project looked at the extent to which the global forests have been depleted and looked at the reasons for such deforestation. According to the findings during research done by students, global tree cover loss had reached a record 29.7 million hectares as many species of animals are now considered endangered due to habitat loss.
Locally, we focused on the local forest reserve of Dzalanyama, which is one of the heavily depleted forests in the Malawi. This forest has been under heavy deforestation due to rising demand for forest products which comes with the expansion of Lilongwe city. On Friday, 1st June 2018, we went on an excursion to visit Dzalanyama with students from standard 4 and form 2. The purpose of the trip was to give the students a concrete experience on how the forest is being damaged by deforestation and learn on how the authorities are managing the forest.
We started off from Mount Sinai campus at 08:20 and arrived at Dzalanyama at 10:30. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by the forest officers and guards who took us on a short tour around the forest and gave the students information concerning Dzalanyama forest reserve. They explained that Dzalanyama is the most important forest in Lilongwe because it is the source of all the rivers that supply water to Lilongwe city and the destruction of the forest has affected the quality and quantity of was in these rivers which is affecting the supply of water in Lilongwe City. The forest is also home to many wild animals such as Lions, zebras, Hyenas and many more which are losing their habitats as the forest keeps on shrinking. However, they said that the forest is currently under intense pressure from people who do logging and produce charcoal in the forest.
The students were lucky to find the forest guards having apprehended some men who were caught cutting down trees in the forest. It was an exciting experience for the students to witness firsthand the capture of people who are responsible for the damage of Dzalanyama forest.
Apprehended forest loggers being punished while students watch on.
It was difficult for the students to tour all the areas that have been deforested due to time. Furthermore, the area close to the forestry office is heavily protected by the Malawi Defense force hence the forest is less damaged. Much of the damage is done on the fringes of the forest. However, during our short tour we managed to see some of the damage that people are causing to the forest.
The damages in pictures
Lastly the students were addressed by the Forest Officer where they had an opportunity to ask questions about Dzalanyama forest reserve.