LILONGWE, Malawi, June 04, 2021 (AEJ) - Malawi's Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo today led a ground breaking ceremony for the new Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) Education Center and commencement of “Project Greenheart” ahead of 2021 World Environment Day which falls on the 5th June. -
Project Greenheart is an exciting nature-based initiative in the 180-acre nature sanctuary where LWT is based. It is co-funded by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
The first of its kind, this major urban conservation project will see rehabilitation of existing structures and construction of new state of the art LWT education center. The realization of this project, will enhance urban biodiversity conservation and boost environmental education among the citizenry.
Considered Lilongwe’s urban green space flagship project, it's launch coincides with United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration that rans from 2021 through 2030 calling for participation of citizens of the world in restoring ecosystems.
Tembo was accompanied by American Ambassador Robert Scott, UNDP Resident Shegeki Komatsubara, LWT Manager, Ian D’hEygeres and officials from IFAW, Lilongwe City Council and representatives from various government departments and the media during the ceremony.
“Greening our cities, planting trees, cleaning up of our rivers is one form of ecosystem restoration. We have to change our behavior and adopt positive habits such as reducing, reusing, recycling of waste and limit use of plastics. We should be the generation that restores peaceful relationship with nature,” Tembo explained after appreciating challenges Lingadzi river is experiencing due to plastic and solid wastes.
According to Tembo “Lilongwe Ecological Corridor Initiative (LECI) project” is aimed at reducing pollution and greening corridor of major rivers in Lilongwe City. “This will provide opportunity for citizens to participate in resetting our relationship with nature and improving our own well-being. Through this project, we will not only enhance nature but also increase livelihoods and tourism. These aspirations will only work if citizens understand how to live responsibly and in harmony with nature.” Said Tembo.
As part of the Sanctuary overhaul D’hEygeres told participants that witnessed the launch that they engaged Malawi College of Forestry and Wildlife staff to conduct a species inventory of exotic trees present in the sanctuary. Using plant systematic and various plant botany methods experts will also come up with estimates on how much carbon sequestration the species are capable of processing.
There are plans to remove the Gmelina species as exotics and replace them with indigenous species although a long-term process. Environmental Affairs Director Tawonga Mbale Luka asked for the study findings of carbon inventory to be shared with her department for registry update.
Chief Executive Officer of Lilongwe City Council John Chome says: We are thrilled to partner with the LWT and UNDP for this first phase and thank them for their commitment and valuable work.”
Tembo expressed appreciation to UNDP, GIZ, US Forest Services, Olsen Animal Trust, IFAW, Four Seasons, Institute for the Conservation of Nature, National Botanic Gardens, Press Trust, Lilongwe City Council, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife for their invaluable support and contribution towards achieving the stated projects.
Photos: Charles Mkoka, Association of Environmental Journalists (AEJ)