Environmental Impact

Environmental Pressure

Malawi is a developing country in which enormous pressure is being exerted on forest resources. Forest cover of the country reduced from 47% in 1975 to 36% in 2005. This is the highest deforestation rate in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, representing a net loss of some 30,000 to 40,000 hectares per year. This forest loss is mainly attributed to agriculture expansion and excessive use of biomass, such as wood, charcoal, and agricultural residues mostly used for cooking and heating. See here.

Biomass accounts for 88.5% of the country’s energy demand, 6.4% comes from petroleum, 2.8% from electricity (hydro power), and 2.4% from coal.  More than 97% of households in Malawi rely on illegally and unsustainably sourced biomass (charcoal and firewood) for domestic cooking and heating energy.  Inefficient production and unsustainable use of biomass energy have contributed to environmental degradation, such as high deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and flooding. See here.

MML's Environmental Impact

MML's operations will have a positive impact on the environment and support SDGs 13 and 15.  Specifically:

  • MML's operations support two key Government of Malawi strategies - The National Forest Landscape Restoration Programme and the National Charcoal Strategy.
  • By 2022 MML will have a total of 3.4 million trees under cultivation with smallholders, these trees will sequester 397,500 tonnes of CO2 and 108,902 tonnes of carbon making MML a carbon positive company.  Further details can be found here and here.  
  • Trees planted as boundary plants around smallholdings provide shade for other crops to flourish.  Shade increases yields and reduces the levels of evaporation saving water.
  • Trees planted around water catchment areas will stabilise stream and riverbanks reducing the potential for flooding. 
  • MML donates efficient cookstoves to partner smallholders to reduce the demand for charcoal and firewood.  Efficent cookstoves reduce firewood demand by c.92%.
    • The average Malawian household of 5.4 uses 4545kg of firewood per year. 
    • MML's cookstove distribution has the potential to save 83,628 tonnes of firewood per year.
  • MML is acting as a technical adviser for the moringa smallholder programme being established by African Parks as part of efforts to reduce subsistence poaching.