Most of Malawi was originally covered by forest but over the years, people have been cutting down the trees and burning them where they fall to open up areas for farming, this is commonly known as “slash and burn” agriculture.
With one of the highest populations densities in Africa, and with only 2% of the population having access to electricity, the people of Malawi are cutting trees faster than the forests can grow. They burn wood as for cooking food, keeping warm etc.
The effects of deforestation are tangible: less rain, hotter climates, soil erosion, and drought bring famine, poverty, and starvation. Yet in Malawi, an area of forest the size of a football pitch is cut down every 10 minutes!
Cooking ~ 98% of the population has no electricity with which to cook. There is no other means available than to use wood or charcoal, both of which require the cutting of trees.
Brick Making ~ In order to make bricks for building construction large amounts of wood is used to fire the brick making kilns.
Shifting Cultivation ~ As land is exhausted from farming, virgin forest is being cleared for new farmland. This deforestation is having drastic effects on the environment.
Building ~ With an ever increasing population, the need for lumber for housing continues to grow.
Tobacco Drying ~ One of the major exports of Malawi is tobacco, and 1 acre of tobacco requires up to 3 acres of woodland to cure the tobacco.
Exports ~ Malawi has a critical need to export in order to help offset the high import costs of goods and services. Wood is a commodity badly needed in other parts of the world, and it brings good prices on the world market.