Malawi harbors diverse natural resources, including forests that cover about thirty percent of the land area, abundant water resources, and diverse flora and fauna. However, the country's resources face threats of degradation from anthropogenic activities through soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and more. Malawi has acknowledged the importance of an environmentally aware population, and conservation trusts in particular play an active role in environmental education.
Policy & Practice
Malawi has a National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP), which led to the development of the National Environmental Policy. The Environmental Action Plan was launched on December 6, 1994. The NEAP recommends a set of actions that should be followed with the purpose of redressing environmental degradation to facilitate a sustained use of natural resources. To operationalize the NEAP, the Government of Malawi embarked on an Environmental Support Programme whose objective is to integrate environmental concerns into the social and economic development processes of the country. The mandate for environmental policy is derived from the Constitution of Malawi. Section Thirteen (13) (d) of the constitution provides the principles of national policy and states the environmental principles as follows: To manage the environment responsibly in order to (1) prevent the degradation of the environment; (2) provide a healthy living and working environment for the people of Malawi; (3) enable recognition to the rights of future generations by means of environmental protection; and (4) conserve and enhance biological diversity of Malawi.
Some of the guiding principles in the National Environmental Policy of Malawi are: (a) Improved environmental protection requires political and public support and understanding of its importance; (b) Environmental education shall be taught on a multi-disciplinary basis and integrated into on-going curriculum review at the pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary levels; (c) Environmental education and awareness shall be promoted through formal and non-formal education channels by all government institutions, NGOs, and the private sector; and (d) An environmental education and public awareness programme shall be targeted to all those in public and private sectors whose activities affect the environment in one way or another as well as to the general public.
There is currently no national association for environmental educators.
National EE Campaigns and Funding
NGOs and conservation trusts play an important role in implementing environmental education initiatives throughout Malawi.
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust’s Protected Area Environmental Education Project works to raise awareness of environmental issues, the importance of protecting the wildlife within protected areas, and the associated benefits for local communities. Topics include deforestation, waste management, biodiversity, and wildlife crime and human-wildlife conflict. The trust also engages authorities in the national parks, and works with their education teams to deliver lessons to local schools.
Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust aims at providing long-term reliable support for biodiversity, research, and conservation of biological diversity and sustainable utilization of natural resources of the Mulanje Forest Reserves. Mount Mulanje covers an area of 250,000 hectares and is home to Malawi’s national tree, Mulanje Cedar (Widdringtonia Whytei). The conservation trust works in collaboration with the Department of Forestry in facilitating the raising of people’s awareness, involvement and understanding of the importance of conservation and responsible management of the biodiversity and natural resources in the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve and to ensure equitable sharing of benefits.