Biodiversity, Community, Community Development, Conservation, Malawi Zambia TFCA, Nyika National Park, Partnerships, TFCAs, Tourism, Uncategorised, Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, Water security, Wetlands

Nyika-Vwaza Agreement Shapes a Sustainable Conservation and Community Future

In a pivotal development for Malawi wildlife conservation, the country’s Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Vera Kamtukule, and the Chief Executive Officer of Peace Parks Foundation, Mr. Werner Myburgh, today signed a ground-breaking 20-year co-management agreement to secure the long-term protection and sustainability of two vital ecological havens in Malawi: Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. The signature took place in the presence of His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, and His Excellency Mr. Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique and Vice-Chairman of Peace Parks Foundation’s Board of Directors. Under the co-management agreement, the Government of Malawi, through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and Peace Parks Foundation will establish an independent Trust with an ensuing mission to balance both conservation and local development. It will do so by adopting an innovative approach to managing the two protected areas as one landscape, employing a business-like mindset and ensuring inclusivity in decision-making. 

The signing ceremony held at State House in Lilongwe was attended by dignitaries from the Malawi Government and Peace Parks Foundation.  Watch here:

His Excellency Mr. Joaquim Chissano, the former president of the Republic of Mozambique and Vice-Chairperson of Peace Parks Foundation, speaks with the organisation’s CEO Mr. Werner Myburgh.

The agreement, through the establishment of the Trust, will allow for full management accountability to be delegated to it and a more efficient and effective business model that will secure funding, foster business principles, enhance staff aptitude and leverage revenues from commercial activities and ecosystem services. Mirroring a vital new approach to governance, the Trust will bring together representatives from the business sector, local authorities and the chiefdoms of the two areas, promoting local stewardship and commitment to conservation. 

The Presidential Parade featured a flurry of traditional Malawian singing and dancing.

The signing of this agreement today is a significant milestone in our country’s efforts to preserve and promote our natural heritage for future generations. The framework will allow government to retain ownership and manage the protected areas with private sector efficiency and agility but, importantly, also involve local communities on an equal footing. This approach will ensure optimal protection of our country’s incredible biodiversity, whilst stimulating tourism growth and building a green economy – a key priority for my government. It is fully in line with the Malawi Vision 2063 we have developed, aspiring to an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant nation by the year 2063.

His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi
His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, speaking at the signing ceremony.

The collaboration between the DNPW and Peace Parks promises to deliver outcomes that bolster socio-economic development in the region and establish a sustainable flow of benefits to local communities. The focus will be on integrated management, rural development, environmental education and developing business opportunities, thereby setting a gold standard for collaborative conservation. 

Peace Parks commends the visionary leadership and commitment of the Government of Malawi in safeguarding these vital biodiversity centres that also serve as a critical water catchment for Malawi and the wider SADC region. We are honoured to support Malawi in its efforts to promote conservation, tourism and regional peace and security. We are now looking forward to continuing to collaborate through the Trust to achieve the environmental, social, and financial sustainability of the Nyika-Vwaza landscape, and consequently of the broader Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area. This aligns strongly with our ambitious goal to conserve 98 million hectares of transboundary African landscapes by 2050.

His Excellency Mr. Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique and Vice-Chairman of Peace Parks Foundation’s Board of Directors

This co-management agreement is unique in the way that it is combining government and private sector strengths in a long-term approach, and in the way that it is combining tourism, conservation and people management at the same time. It provides us with a new approach to contributing to job and wealth creation, and to empowering resilient, vibrant communities, whilst preserving our natural capital.  

The Hon. Vera Kamtukule, Malawi’s Minister of Tourism
Holding vital joint shares in the Malawi-Zambia Trasfrontier Conservation Area are Nyika National Park and its southern neighbour, Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Between the two, an abundance of water and game, a reviving elephant population and an incredible carbon-storing marsh system place these protected areas in, arguably, Africa’s top 10…  

“Nyika National Park is the oldest and largest National Park in Malawi. It is estimated that Nyika and Vwaza together contribute as much as 10% of the annual water catchment for Lake Malawi on which more than 10 million people are directly dependent for their livelihoods. To safeguard such a critically important ecosystem through this long-term co-management agreement where government, communities and the private sector join forces, paves the way for a new and inclusive governance model for conserving large landscapes in Africa. Our sincere appreciation to the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and KfW for their significant and unwavering support.”

Werner Myburgh, CEO, Peace Parks Foundation
Nyika National Park lies at the heart of the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area and is a true ‘elephants in the mist’ spectacle, life-supporting for communities and a treasure for tourists.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the German Development Bank, KfW, the DNWP and Peace Parks have been working steadfastly to safeguard Nyika and Vwaza, since the signing the Malawi Zambia TFCA Treaty in 2015, ensuring local communities reap benefits from these endeavours. Moving forward, their agenda remains focused on boosting local livelihoods and landscape preservation, initiating innovative programmes and economic activities that benefit thousands. Central to their strategy is the protection of ecosystems and the co-existence with people living within these landscapes. 


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