Over 70 hectors of land belonging to Chipata Forest has been encroached by people constructing houses and cultivating in the area.
Acting Provincial Forestry Officer, Sylvester Siame told Breeze News that in the past, 70 hectors of the forest was degazzeted for residential developers but people started extending the boundary by constructing in the forest reserves.
He says that the number of houses illegally constructed in the forest has grown in the recent past because some people are claiming to own part of the land which they are selling out.
Mr. Siame says that the illegal cultivation and construction in the forest is posing a danger to human life because it is encouraging a lot of siltation in the rivers and will also affect the life span of Lunkhwakwa stream, whose source is right in the forest.
Meanwhile, squatters in the Chipata Forest Reserve told Breeze News that they will not leave the area even after being asked to do so by authorities from the Forestry Department.
And Chipata Municipal Council Town Clerk, Davies Musenge says that the council can only legalize the area if given authority by the Forestry Department.
Mr. Musenge says illegal land allocation and land encroachment is a big challenge in the district because a lot of people are selling land illegally by impersonating council workers.
He warned residents to stop buying land from people claiming to be council workers, saying the local authority is currently not selling any residential plots in the district.