As a lodge we work relatively close with the community and the Forestry department in protecting the evergreen rainforest. A real gem that is not only a great destination for our guests and a source for the fresh air we breathe in, but also of true importance for the water that it is providing to surrounding villages. Unfortunately we also have to deal with practices that can be seen all over Malawi, e.g. fires.
Usually, fires in the forest can be seen during the dry season. Very often these are set on purpose by local cattle owners and land owners to cultivate the land. Therefore, years ago, the lodge has established fire breaks in cooperation with the surrounding communities out of necessity to stop fires from moving all over the place, and it works. The fire breaks are being maintained annually by a big group of engaged villagers who receive a small remuneration for their work.
We always ask external parties for funds, in combination with a contribution from our Community Trust that guests can make a donation to. In the case of fires, the so-called Patrol Troopers – a community-based team – go out to extinguish them.
Last September and October, we have had some serious fires again. You may have seen an article about this in the local newspaper The Nation, written by a guest that stayed with us during this time. He wrote about the fires that may put Ntchisi Forest at risk. However, the rapid response of the Patrol Troopers has definitely avoided more damage. During these months, the forest can recover and guests can still enjoy the beauty of it. The coming time, we will meet with the local authorities and representatives of the Forestry Department to discuss how we can best work together to protect the forest for future generations.