A wealth of biodiversity
Named after the Lilongwe River, the largest city of Malawi, Lilongwe City, lies within a biologically diverse region of the country. The city is surrounded by a large expanse of savannah woodland which is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. An important part of the city’s ecosystems constitutes the aquatic systems which traverse the city’s landscape. Significant of these, is the Lilongwe River, the largest river in Malawi. The city’s aquatic systems have been known to play an important role in providing critical ecosystem services to the city as well as harbor and provide a refuge for biodiversity.
A Nature Sanctuary, which is located within the boundaries of the city, also provides a natural environment for many wildlife species within the city, including a number of threatened plants species. Started in the early 20th century as a small village on the banks of the Lilongwe River, Lilongwe City has experience rapid development and growth rates in recent times, and has become one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. The city’s rapid growth and development has increased the competition for space for development and biodiversity, and placing biodiversity and ecosystems in this city under severe threat.
Community involvement in conservation
To safeguard against the loss of its biodiversity and to maintain the city’s biodiversity wealth, the city has been engaged in numerous projects in partnership with other organizations to help improve biodiversity conservation. A major project which the city has been engaged in is aimed at rehabilitating riverine areas with a strong focus on community involvement. Lilongwe City recognises that no conservation initiative will take root if the community is not actively involved. Through this project, the city continues to create awareness and educates the community members and schools on the role that aquatic systems and riparian vegetation plays in city and the need to conserve. This project also informed a tree planting initiative which resulted in thousands of trees being planted around the city. In order to ensure that its rapid infrastructural development does not compete with the natural ecosystems and biodiversity, the city has recently developed a Master Plan. This is aimed to guide developments, ensuring that proper consideration is given to the degree of impacts of all developments on the environment before they are approved. The city continues to work towards better biodiversity conservation in its rapidly growing environment.