PROJECT GREENHEART: TRANSFORMING THE LILONGWE WILDLIFE CENTRE

Today is World Wildlife Day which this year celebrates the theme Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet. As such, there’s no better time to announce our new plans under Project GreenHeart, an exciting initiative focused on the 180-acre forest reserve that is home to the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi’s only wildlife rescue and welfare facility. Project GreenHeart will also kick off the first phase of an ambitious vision to create an ecological corridor through the heart of the capital city.
 

Ian D’heygere, Manager of Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, said, “As well as housing our wildlife sanctuary, the site hosts the last remaining stand of the nationally endangered Piliostigma-Acacia-Combretum woodland, and is also home to diverse wildlife, from hyenas, bushpigs and crocodiles to over 200 species of bird. The protection of this valuable ecosystem is absolutely critical, and it has been disheartening to see the degradation in the surrounding areas over the years. We are encouraged by the City Council’s commitment to restore urban biodiversity and we look forward to contributing to its vision.”

Our vision is to transform Lilongwe into a green, clean and prosperous city.

John Chome, the Director of Lilongwe City Council, said, ”The Lilongwe Ecological Corridor Initiative is a flagship development project designed to harness the city’s urban natural assets to transform Lilongwe into a green, clean and prosperous city. We are thrilled to partner with the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and UNDP for this first phase of the implementation of the initiative and thank them for their commitment and valuable work.”

PROJECT GREENHEART GOALS

Why do we need Project GreenHeart?
 

Lilongwe is a rapidly urbanising city, with increasing encroachment on green spaces and few opportunities for people to escape the ‘built’ environment. At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence documenting the benefits of urban nature to human health and wellbeing. As such, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is perfectly placed to provide critical opportunities not just for wildlife protection, but for nature-based recreation and environmental education.

Just over a decade after first opening its gates, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is undergoing major renovations under the Project Greenheart initiative. Central to the redevelopment are the substantial upgrades to the wildlife rehabilitation facilities, generously funded by the Olsen Animal Trust and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, further enhancing the Wildlife Centre’s standing as a world-class rescue centre. Thanks to funding and technical support from UNDP, GIZUSAID / US Forest Service and Stitching Amfort, the construction of a new visitor hub, education and training facilities will help us to create a new ‘centre of environmental excellence’ that will connect people with nature, build in-country environmental capacity, and inspire conservation action. This investment will also help the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre to fulfil its potential as a leading eco-tourism destination, in turn creating nature-based jobs for local communities, which will be a critical part of Lilongwe’s ‘green recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information on the ecological corridor project will follow in due course, but in the meantime you can read more about the Wildlife Centre redevelopments below.

Get involved!

We are seeking partners to help us reach our Project GreenHeart fundraising target. 

If you would like to find out more about funding or partnership opportunities please email our Centre Manager, Ian D’heygere.

Saving wildlife
 

The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is the central hub for all of LWT’s national wildlife protection work. Thanks to support from the Olsen Animal Trust and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, we are building a brand new veterinary clinic and animal enclosures that will enable our team to help even more animals recover from abuse, injury and suffering, and get a second chance at life back in the wild.

“Improving crucial facilities will further strengthen our capacity for wildlife protection,” says our Head Vet, Dr. Amanda Salb. “Whenever possible, we release animals we receive back into the wild once they have been rehabilitated. To achieve this successfully, the welfare of each individual animal must always be our priority.”

These new facilities will also support professional development, training and volunteering opportunities for Malawian and international students, researchers and the general public, through LWT’s conservation placement programme. 

Getting closer to nature

The Centre will also offer new opportunities for visitors to get closer to nature. Designed to encourage exploration and discovery with the beautiful woodland setting, and thanks to funding from Stitching Amfort, the redeveloped site will feature a new network of nature trails, an elevated boardwalk, benches, a playground, picnic areas and a botanic garden. 

Project GreenHeart will also improve forestry management within the nature reserve, safeguarding habitats for wildlife and providing other vital ecosystem services.

“The land that the Centre now protects was once used to plant Gmelina arborea, an exotic and invasive tree species,” explains Ian. “As part of the redevelopment, we’ll be incrementally phasing out the Gmelina. This will restore the indigenous forest, which in turn will improve the health of the ecosystem.”

We will restore the indigenous forest, which in turn will improve the health of the ecosystem.

Empowering the next generation
 

Each year the Centre welcomes thousands of schoolchildren to learn more about the environment. We believe the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre has a pivotal role to play in empowering even more people to protect nature, which is why Project GreenHeart will include a brand new Education Centre that will host a range of events, activities and exhibitions.

“We’re in the process of designing educational activities and interactive exhibits that will teach people more about the various threats facing Malawi’s wildlife and natural resources, and empower them to take action in their own lives,” says Clement Manjaalera, our Head of Education. “It’s all about inspiring the next generation of environmentalists in Malawi.”

Project GreenHeart donors and partners