Malawian President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday received special recognition for his role in signing the 2014 Arusha Declaration on Regional Conservation and Combating Wildlife/Environmental Crime and pledged that his administration will enhance measures aimed at preserving the country’s natural resources to prevent them from extinction.
President Mutharika received the recognition and gave a keynote address at the Hart Senate Building in Washington DC at the Congressional International Conservation dinner hosted in honour of two African heads of state.
Mutharika has since accepted the challenge to lead other African countries in the fight against the depletion of natural resources and wildlife crime.
Making his keynote address as the principal speaker of the night, President Mutharika said as Malawi’s high population density is a crucial factor in the significant human pressure on biological resources and protected areas.
“As the human population increases, the pressure to over-harvest forest and biodiversity resources, and to convert land for cultivation, will increase,” he said.
“This is why addressing conservation issues, and sustainable use of natural resources, in the face of rapid population growth, is one of Malawi’s greatest challenges” he added.
He said population growth has increased pressure on Malawi’s forest reserves, which have to provide charcoal to fuel the urban communities.
“To address this problem, my government, embarked on a community based conservation drive. We believe that a successful management of natural resources should engage the people who are affected, and in so doing they can participate in setting or changing rules, that can protect the environment,” Mutharika disclosed.
Mutharika said these efforts seek to find ways of strengthening community engagement and benefit sharing from the management of national parks and forest reserves.
The Malawi President added that progress in recent years has been impressive – citing for example, the Department of Forestry, which he said is expanding the use of Participatory Forest Management, as an approach, for engaging local communities in the management of forest reserves, and importantly, in sharing the benefits from such management.
“This approach has been supported by the World Bank in the Shire River Basin Management Program. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife has introduced a financial mechanism that enables benefit sharing of revenues, from the parks (for example from concession and gate fees) with local communities, and this mechanism is now under operation at some conservation areas.”
Speaking earlier, Dr. Naoko Ishii, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility said the organization will in June this year, approve funding of about $100 million to help in the fight against wildlife crime in African countries.
Dr Ishii said Malawi will lead a group of several countries that will use these funds to preserve the remaining protected wildlife which exists in Africa.
The dinner was attended by members of the US Congress, members of conservation organization, Parliamentarians from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi among other African countries.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :