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BGCI launches new project to save Malawi's national tree

Traditional leaders planting a Mulanje Cedar seedling at the project launch

Malawi’s national tree, the Mulanje Cedar, occurs naturally only on Mulanje Mountain. This valuable timber tree is now Critically Endangered as a result of over-exploitation and fire. A new project led by BGCI, the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust and the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi, will restore populations of Mulanje Cedar on the mountain and generate alternative sustainable income sources for communities relying on the timber.

The Mulanje Cedar (Widdringtonia whytei) is endemic to Mulanje Mountain in Malawi. This unique tree produces valuable timber that is durable, termite-proof and used for construction and wood-carving. Its value has led to overexploitation and very few Mulanje Cedar trees remain standing on the mountain. This has resulted in a loss of income for communities living around the mountain, increased soil erosion and floods due to rapid water run-off from the mountain during rainy seasons.

The tree is now Critically Endangered and at risk of extinction in its natural environment if action is not taken soon.

BGCI and lead partners the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) and the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM) have secured funding from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative for a three year project that will work with foresters, botanists, NGOs, governments, academics and local communities to replant and restore cedar populations on Mulanje Mountain. Experts from the BGCI and Global Trees Campaign networks the Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens will provide technical support to the project.

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Date: 
Thursday, June 30, 2016