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Poverty fuelling mountain exploitation- Minister of Tourism

By Fostina Mkandawire

Salima: Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Culture Dr. Micheal Usi on Monday underscored the need to reinforce by-laws that will protect and conserve mountains from being overexploited.

The Minister made the remarks during the commemoration of International Mountain Day, at Parachute Battalion in Salima, he added that mountains are under threat from over-exploitation driven by poverty and rapid population growth.

He said despite their vital role in providing key ecosystem goods and services to the country, mountains have been encroached for settlement and cultivation causing extensive deforestation.

“Unsustainable cultivation practices in mountainous areas have also resulted in severe land degradation leading to soil erosion and the subsequent siltation of rivers and other water bodies downstream,” he said.

Usi said the negative impacts of exploiting mountains has affected other sectors of the economy including electricity generation in the energy sector.

Usi appreciating products from mountain resources

At this point, he called for stiffening of by-laws in communities so that others should be learning lessons.

Director of Land Resource in the Ministry of Agriculture, MacPherson Nthala said there is need for a Multi-sectoral approach in mountain conservation, he therefore called upon stakeholders to join hands with the government to ensure that mountains are protected.

Nthala said the importance of mountains cannot be overemphasized, citing an example of tourist attraction as one of the benefits.

“This commemoration will help us to share experiences, opportunities and capacity development in mountains, the day can promote gender equality and therefore contribute to improve social justice, livelihoods and resilience,” he said.

One of the activities during the commemoration was hiking of 7 hills of Sengabay, by a group of hikers from different sectors across the country, as a way of exhibiting one of the benefits of mountains which is hiking.

International Mountain Day falls on 11th December, and this year’s theme is ‘Women move mountains.’ The theme is aimed at raising awareness about the need to empower women so they can participate more effectively in decision-making processes and have more control over productive resources.

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