Monitoring and enforcement Schedule for UNA Priority Biodiversity Hotspots in Lilongwe City, Malawi. 

There is increasing recognition amongst environmental practitioners that good environmental management and compliance is linked to well-designed monitoring and enforcement plans. This holds true in urban planning and decision making processes, especially within the African context. Through the Urban Natural Assets: Rivers for Life (UNA Rivers) project, a monitoring and enforcement schedule was developed for urban natural asset (UNA) priority hotspots in Lilongwe City in order to ensure sound management and compliance of the city planning recommendations.

The need to integrate urban natural assets into city planning processes, especially in African cities is well acknowledged. Through the UNA Rivers project, this need was identified in Lilongwe City – the capital of Malawi. This resulted in the co-development of a number of maps which outline priority hotspots in Lilongwe City (indicated in dark red in the map below). The mapped priority hotspots guide development within the city due to the value of nature in urban life. Hotspot areas identified and marked by a priority or high status are extremely important to the resilience of the city and therefore, should be preserved.

Figure 1: Location of Urban Natural Asset Hotspots in Lilongwe City
Figure 2: Location of Priority and High Hotspots in Lilongwe City


As with any city planning tool, such as an UNA priority hotspot map, monitoring and enforcement is essential in ensuring effective and successful implementation of the tool. Many local governments across Africa are faced with capacity constraints. Within the city planning departments, this often results in the need for guidance on identifying what aspects of the city planning process need to be checked up on, how many times important natural assets needs to be monitored and how the checking processing should be carried out. Through various dialogues with city officials in Lilongwe it became apparent that assistance with implementing the nature-friendly planning recommendations (provided by the UNA priority hotspot map) was required. As a result, a monitoring and enforcement schedule for the mapped priority hotspots was co-developed.

The enforcement schedule, developed in close consultation with the city council and various key stakeholders, serves as an outline for regular check-up of the UNA priority hotspots areas (located in Figure 1) as well as provides the platform for a longer-term Riverine Habitat Monitoring Programme.

Not only will the schedule assist with ensuring the maps are being used in city planning decision making and enable stakeholders to assess the ongoing success of the Lilongwe City Council in bringing greenery back into the city, but it will also add to the collective impact of transformative initiatives that aim to either renature urban environments or safeguard natural environments from human development in the future.


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