By Rebecca Bloomfield
Our Protected Area Environmental Education Project (LWT PEEP North) team has been busy this month in the north of Malawi, raising awareness on the importance of supporting protected areas, reducing wildlife crime and mitigating environmental issues.
A community sensitisation law enforcement workshop was carried out in Rumphi to teach the local community about Malawi’s new wildlife act. The programme focused on the impact that wildlife crimes can have on protected areas and the animals living within them, emphasising the measures that have been put in place to reduce the high rates of poaching. The workshop attracted 63 participants, including Natural Resources College members, community police representatives, local leaders, and officials from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW).
Local people were encouraged to share their thoughts, with many raising concerns about the negative impact that wildlife crime, as well as broader issues such as climate change, are having on their livelihoods. One of the main issues highlighted was reduced tourism in protected areas due to the poaching of iconic species, leading to communities receiving insignificant funds from the revenue sharing scheme. Concerns were also raised regarding shortened rainfall patterns affecting crop yield, soil erosion, and flooding. Participants of the workshop discussed how these issues could be prevented and reduced, with ideas including farm input diversification and irrigation farming, continued awareness campaigns, vocational training for young people living near protected area borders, tree planting and promotion of improved cooking stove usage. LWT will look into opportunities to integrate these ideas into our PEEP programme and we already run an afforestation scheme to plant trees with the help of schools around the country.
Elsewhere in the northern region, the PEEP programme held a wildlife club open day to promote conservation in schools. Around 280 pupils belonging to various wildlife clubs participated in the event, showcasing a variety of activities to their parents, community members, and peers and sharing important messages with the aim to inspire change and promote a sense of stewardship towards protecting the environment. PEEP members were greatly encouraged by the students’ songs, poems, and plays, with everyone sharing the goal of protecting wildlife for future generations to enjoy.
LWT PEEP North was also pleased to welcome the Nyika Vwaza Trust (NVT-UK), the principal funders of our Protected Area Environmental Education Project, to Malawi. With two of the three-year implementation period for the project’s first phase completed, NVT-UK’s board of trustees visited the country to assess the impacts LWT PEEP has had in local communities.
With much more planned for the future, the program will continue to work with local communities to raise awareness on wildlife conservation and environmental protection. If you would like to be part of our protected area environmental education programme, check out our volunteering opportunities or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.