Malawi making progress to have a third World Heritage Site

There seem to be government commitment to see Mulanje Mountain prescribed a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). If successful, this will increase the number of world-recognised heritage sites in Malawi, which meanwhile has Lake Malawi National Park in Mangochi and Chongoni Heritage Centre in Dedza to three.

A process is underway to apply for Mount Mulanje to be inscribed as our third World Heritage Site in Malawi. The Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust, an environmental agency is in the forefront in working on a nomination dossier to be presented to the UNESCO for consideration.

Speaking recently on arrival in Malawi from UNESCO general conference in Paris, Minister of Education George Chaponda said Malawi will soon be submitting to UNESCO to have Mulanje Mountain as one of the world heritage sites.

Mulanje Mountain

Malawi will be submitting the proposal just soon after being elected into the 51-member UNESCO Executive Board.

According to the Trust’s officer responsible for education and communication, Hastings Maloya, with support of experienced consultants the Trust has looked at things like endemism per surface area and compared it with a number of places in Africa.

Also done is a comparative analysis with other island mountains with some similarities but of course will provide the platform to prove why Mulanje is outstanding. The dossier has also included the cultural aspects, which could as well be the main “ingredient”.

“Collection and documentation of materials is at an advanced stage and expectations are high that Mulanje Mountain will soon be declared a World Heritage Site,” said Maloya in an interview with Nyasa Times.

“Mulanje and Phalombe districts, and the people living around the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve and Malawi as a nation stand to benefit a lot in terms of tourism and economically once the mountain becomes a World Heritage Site,” he says.

He said once submitted-UNESCO will assess the materials and determine the declaration.

Maloya called on people around the mountain to jealously safeguard the mountain from degradation saying that is their hidden treasure.

He also called for political support, and of course support from the private sector, local communities and other organisations as it is never easy to prove that a site has heritage that is important to the whole world, and not only to one country.

Mount Mulanje is one of the very remarkable natural resources in Malawi. Apart from its famous and imposing Sapitwa Peak that stands over 3000 metres above sea level, the attractive Mt. Mulanje is more than a rock. It has a very rich and stunning forest reserve, which is home to a rich and diverse endemic plant and animal species.

Mulanje Mountain ranks high in terms of biodiversity richness in Malawi. Globally, it is an important ecological site.

Heritage is something we inherited from the past. Malawi possesses rich natural as well as cultural heritage. On the natural side, we have great biodiversity, unique ecosystems and spectacular landscapes. On the cultural side we have a long history, cultural diversity, indigenous belief systems and historical monuments.

This most impressive mountain, often referred to as our “Island in the Sky”, has exceptional biological diversity for its surface area. There are almost a hundred species that occur nowhere else in the world. Mount Mulanje can truly be described as a monument of Nature.

Mulanje Mountain also contains exceptional cultural heritage. There are numerous accounts of the spirits that live in the mountain, and they are often linked to mysterious disappearances. The mountain is also known well beyond our borders for its medicinal plants and the herbalists that are based there.

Popularly known as an “Island in the sky”-Mulanje Mountain is a biodiversity home with Cedar standing out as a notable tree and it is only found on top of the mountain on earth.

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