Ahead of World Environment Day on 5th June, Tembo urged people to ‘change their behaviour’ and ‘adopt positive habits’ to restore a peaceful relationship with nature. She was joined at the event – held to celebrate the redevelopment of Lilongwe Wildlife Centre – by distinguished guests Shigeki Komatsubara, the UN Resident Representative for Malawi, and Ambassador Robert Scott, the US Ambassador to Malawi.
The event began with a special ground breaking and tree planting ceremony at the site of a new environmental education centre which will be constructed on the north side of the 180-acre Wildlife Centre grounds. This building – along with other facilities including new visitor attractions and a volunteer centre – is being generously funded by the United Nations Development Programme in efforts to protect urban biodiversity, stimulate local livelihoods and promote a ‘green recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the tree planting ceremony delegates were taken on a tour of the nature trails by the Wildlife Centre Manager Ian D’heygere, during which they picked up litter and learned more about plans to protect the indigenous forest by phasing out an exotic species called Gmelina, a project being undertaken by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust in partnership with the Malawi College of Forestry and Wildlife and the US Forest Service.
Guests then toured the construction site of a brand new veterinary clinic and animal rehabilitation enclosures which are being funded by two of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust’s long-term donors, the Olsen Animal Trust and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. These new facilities will further enhance our capacity to provide emergency rescue support and long-term rehabilitation to Malawi’s wildlife, which are at threat from a range of pressures, including habitat loss, wildlife trafficking and the illegal pet trade.
The event closed with a series of impassioned speeches from the distinguished guests, with Tembo outlining how Project GreenHeart will contribute to wider plans, led by Lilongwe City Council, to develop a flagship ‘ecological corridor’ of protected green space through the heart of the capital.
“This will provide opportunity for citizens to participate in resetting our relationship with nature and improving our own well-being. Through this project, we will not only enhance nature but also increase livelihoods and tourism. These aspirations will only work if citizens understand how to live responsibly and in harmony with nature”, she said.
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is enormously grateful to the partners and donors who are supporting the Project GreenHeart initiative: UNDP, GIZ, the US Forest Service, the Olsen Animal Trust, IFAW, Stichting Amfortas and Four Seasons.
If you would like to support Project GreenHeart – either through the provision of funding, technical support or in-kind materials – please email our Centre Manager, Ian D’heygere at firstname.lastname@example.org.