The parliamentary committee on Natural Resources has proposed the establishment of an environment court as one way of saving the environment.
Speaking when the committee toured the Viphya Plantation in Mzimba on Tuesday and Wednesday, the committee’s chairperson Werani Chilenga said it is unfortunate that the courts give out lenient sentences on illegal loggers – a development that is promoting illegal harvesting of trees in the plantation.
“We feel an environmental court will give more attention to environmental issues and it will mete out stiffer sentences to deter would-be offenders than is the case at the moment,” he said.
The committee has, therefore, proposed to the Department of Forestry to include the establishment of the court in the Forestry Act which is currently under review.
It also requested the department to include the seizure of vehicles impounded ferrying illegal forestry products.
Director of forestry Clement Chilima welcomed the proposal. He singled out the Mzimba Magistrate’s Court and the Mzuzu High Court as some of the courts that mete out lenient sentences.
But Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said all that the country needs is a review of the Forestry Act.
“As much as I agree that there is environmental degradation that has a negative impact on our economy. We don’t need an environmental court. The readily available courts can do the needful,” he said. n