For the first time, the world commemorated International Day for Biosphere Reserves on 3rd November 2022.

Biosphere reserves to begin with are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.

Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and designated under the UNESCO Man And the Biosphere Programme.

Malawi, has two Biosphere reserves namely; Lake Chilwa Wetland Biosphere Reserve and Mount Mulanje Biosphere Reserve.

The Lake Chilwa Wetland Biosphere Reserve is home to one of the world’s most diverse populations of bird species. Lake Chilwa is the second largest lake in Malawi and was formed by tectonic processes. The lake functions as a shallow inland drainage basin; its eastern side is composed of sandy soils, while the remaining soils comprise fine-grained clays.

The Mount Mulanje Biosphere Reserve is situated halfway between mountain chains and upland areas extending from the Ethiopian highlands to South Africa. It has a rich biodiversity with a high level of endemism.

There are three main ethnic groups and several minorities living in the area. The main land-use activities are agriculture and pastoralism, selective logging, and extraction of medicinal plants and other non-timber forest products, as well as ecotourism. The mountain also carries an important cultural significance, as ancestral spirits are believed to reside there. These sites are now used as shrines for traditional rites.

In order to increase awareness, participation and sustainability of biosphere reserves, environmental education is critical. Over the past weekend, we had 30 students from Milonga and Namalowe CDSS on Mt Mulanje to learn about the uniqueness of Mt Mulanje Biosphere Reserve.

Many thanks to Mountain Club of Malawi for supporting the trip, Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust and WESM – Mulanje Branch for great coordination, technical support etc.

Together we can understand our BRs and take good care of them. #ItsAboutLife

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