October 5, 2007

Malawi risks losing its important plant species

National Herbarium and Botanical Gardens of Malawi says the country would wake up one day and find out that all its important plant species have varnished due to deforestation and rampant theft. The institutions’ general manager professor James Seyani therefore urged “to conserve our important plants which can be used in the economic development of the country. But its sad that the country is losing these important species due to theft,” said Seyani.
He bemoaned the loss of plant specie on the Zomba Mountain which he said was the only one on the mountain. “We have discovered just now that one of the plant species which was the only one on Zomba Mountain is no longer there. This plant is very important because it was a medicinal plant,” said the concerned Seyani. According to him, there was need for the government to put tough measures to protect the country’s forests. “Some foreigners come in the country feast on these plants and take them to their countries where they use them for various projects,” he said adding that National Herbarium was trying its best to protect as many species as possible, which he said, are used by many stakeholders and herbalists.
He said the institution was working with among others herbalists who he said come to collect propagating materials, teach them the best harvesting methods and also provide research materials for the University of Malawi among others.
Recently, National Herbarium and Botanical Gardens donated 2.1 million plant species of Ulumba to the Ulumba group in Traditional Authority Chikowi in Zomba as part of protection. Some of the medicinal plants which the institution has include Aloe vera (immune booster), Aloe SP(Chithembwe), which is a treatment for stomachache and pneumonia. (Daily Times, Lilongwe)

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