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Malawi - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Malawi is one of the countries with the largest number and the most diverse communities of freshwater fish in the world. Malawi possesses over 800 species of fish, and 90% of them are endemic. Lake Malawi is a well-known attraction, being the country’s largest water body (covering about 20% of Malawi’s territory) and the most significant water body in terms of fish production and diversity. In 1975, 47% of Malawi was classified as forest but this seems to have reduced to 28% in 2000. The country has diverse flora, fauna and ecosystems due to its various climates, soils and topography. Increasing population pressure, deforestation, agricultural expansion, loss of habitats, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, inadequacy of policies, market failures, and pollution are threats to the country’s biodiversity.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The strategy identified four main goals: (1) conservation of protected areas, mountains and species and restoration of degraded and vulnerable ecosystems, habitats and species; (2) enhancement and improvement of the biodiversity knowledge base and the strengthening of human and infrastructure capacity; (3) enhancement of agricultural production through protection and management of biodiversity and support for initiatives that encourage fair and equitable sharing of benefits; (4) and the enhancement of community understanding and appreciation of biodiversity and support of community action. Other major aspects of the strategy and action plan include public participation and awareness, sectoral policies, sustainable use of genetic resources, financing mechanisms, partnerships between various stakeholders, and good governance.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

To achieve the 2010 target, the country intends to enhance and protect the existing protected areas network, enhance forest rehabilitation programs and develop plans to halt the degradation of biodiversity. Malawi is engaged to: increase the number and distribution of rare and threatened species and discourage their commercial use; develop other in-situ and ex-situ programs; develop programs related to invasive species; undertake research and development of cage culture to reduce dependency on capture fisheries; prevent and combat the effects of forest fires, promote sustainable use of forest and aquatic resources, and integrate considerations of sustainable use into sectoral policies as much as possible. Also, the country intends to: regulate bioprospecting; promote interdisciplinary research and indigenous knowledge systems; regulate access to genetic resources and sharing of the benefits through provisions of Intellectual Property Rights systems; promote community participation, public awareness and capacity building (government and private sector); and promote awareness of the importance of biological diversity in economic development and livelihood of the people. The implementation of adaptation options to climate change in various sectors was also mentioned.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

The country intends to extend and protect the existing network of protected areas. Most of the evergreen forests and montane grasslands occur in protected areas, such as Forest Reserves, National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. Furthermore, both the Miombo Ecoregion and Rift Valley Ecoregion are represented in the Protected Areas Network.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

The country indicated that this issue does not constitute a national priority. However, some actions related to this article are mentioned in the NBSAP and National Reports, such as the participation of local leaders in policy dialogue, protection of indigenous knowledge and promotion of traditional systems to protect biodiversity.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme