OVERVIEW: Biodiversity

Environmental Management Framework

Development and the Environment

Soil and Land



Water Resources

Biological Diversity

Human Habitat

Climate Change



Malawi's biological diversity is very varied, in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Sixty-nine endemic plant species and an estimated 1000 endemic fish species have been described. But due to the pressures on all natural resources in the country, biological diversity is seriously threatened. Outside the protected areas, the pressure from expansion of agriculture production and unsustainable harvesting have already resulted in the extinction of many species, and loss of habitats. The continued adoption of foreign and improved crop varieties and livestock breeds are inevitably pushing local land races into extinction.

Another major threat is the demand for wildlife based resources, such as rhino and elephant trophies, in and outside Malawi which is mostly met by illegal hunting. Populations of some animals such as Nyala and elephants have seriously declined over the years, and the rhino population is virtually exterminated. 

These losses will ultimately have a negative effect on the tourism industry in Malawi and the sustenance of ecosystems. A number of measures are already in place to address the continued threats to biodiversity. These include public awareness programmes.

Besides, as a party to a number of international conventions some of which promote conservation of biodiversity, Malawi has a political obligation to formulate policies for protecting its biological diversity, and in particular the many endemic species.


  • In order to protect and manage Malawi's rich biodiversity in a sustainable manner, it is recommended to;
  • develop and implement policies and legislation that efficiently support effective land use planning in order to promote the conservation and sustainable utilisation of biological diversity;
  • consider promotion of more viable income generating activities, in particular sustainable wildlife-based enterprises for communities neighbouring protected wildlife area;
  • urgently implement programmes for in situ and ex situ conservation of biodiversity in order to establish a basis for sustainable utilisation and resource impact assessments.
  • conduct adequate resource inventories on population trends of all species, and determine which components of biodiversity are being heavily harvested or exploited In order to account in full for species that are in a critical state In wildlife protected areas;
  • enhance the research capacity of all departments responsible for managing the country's biological diversity.
 Contents | Foreword  | Acknowlegdements | Editorial Process
Contributors | Preface | Acronyms  | Overview
Chapters: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Appendix I
Lists: Maps | Figures | Tables | Boxes | References