Restoring the forests of Mulanje Mountain: Securing a future for a Critically Endangered tree and providing jobs for more than 500 people

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Ibrahim Mitole

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Mulanje Cedar, Malawi’s national tree, naturally found only on Mount Mulanje, is now extinct in the wild as a result of uncontrolled logging. Mulanje Cedar has been a keystone species on the mountain and its cutting has resulted in devastating degradation of forests and a loss of habitat for other forest plants and animals. Destruction has also resulted in decreased resilience against heavy rains, which are now causing flash floods that have led to people’s farms and houses being washed away and, in the worst cases, people’s lives being lost. Over the past three years, ten community nurseries have been established around Mount Mulanje and a large-scale restoration programme for Mulanje Cedar has been initiated to try to pull this species back from the brink of extinction. The project has improved livelihoods of rural communities, with visible effect, by providing restoration-based employment to more than 500 people, with a focus on women for whom employment opportunities were restricted locally. The skills of botanic gardens are benefitting this project, for example by investigating optimal growing conditions and developing horticultural protocols for Mulanje Cedar, as well as designing trials to improve restoration results. This project is now expanding to identify additional opportunities for livelihood improvement based on restoration and sustainable utilisation of plant resources on Mount Mulanje. This presentation aims to encourage practitioners to adopt community involvement and botanical and horticultural knowledge as core ingredients in restoration project design.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration