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The Nyika Vwaza (UK) Trust works to improve the conservation of both the fauna and flora od the Nyika National Park and the Vwaza March Wildlife Reserve through its programme of education in the communities surrounding the protected areas and its work in applied research to find solutions to significant threats to the ecology of these areas.

The Trust provides funding for these activities largely through the generosity of its supporters.

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RSG Evening 2011

Those of you unable to join us at our fundraising evening on 8th November 2011 at The Royal Geographical Society in London might enjoy this brief report.

First of all, we were delighted that the Minister for Tourism, The Honourable Mr Daniel Liwimbi and the Chargee D’Affaires, Mr James Ali and his wife Bridget, were able to join us. Our relationship with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife is key to the work we do on the Nyika and in Vwaza and so to have such visible support at a senior government level at our evening was fabulous.

Professor Jeff Burley’s lecture, “Why trees are important for Malawi”, was fascinating. Jeff offered a particularly lucid explanation of how the environmental, economic and social spheres need to connect for forestry policies to become sustainable, not just in Malawi but throughout the world. At a time when the evidence of human-induced climate change is overwhelming, and the need to act is compelling, Jeff also made the important point that foresters – and other scientists – must present their arguments not merely for peer review but, just as vital, must connect with policy-makers and the media so that they can influence change. If you would like Jeff’s lecture in full, we have copies available for sale in booklet form. Copies of the lecture in booklet form can be obtained from Harry Foot, Stowford Farm, Harford, Ivybridge, Devon, PL21 0JD. Cost £6 including p&p.

Prior to Jeff’s lecture, our Chairman, Tom Lupton, gave an update on trust activities over the last 12 months. Tom started by congratulating the Minister and the Malawi Government for signing the funding agreement with the World Bank for the Nyika Trans Frontier Conservation Area. The formalisation of the TFCA is the culmination of over seven years work, and will help to secure the sound management of Nyika and Vwaza for at least the next five years, as well as support the socio- economic development of the surrounding communities in both Malawi and Zambia. The Nyika -Vwaza Trust in Malawi will be working as a partner in implementing projects funded under the Trans Frontier Conservation Area Agreement. Tom pointed out the important role the Nyika Vwaza Trusts have played in getting to this point: both by being actively involved with conservation work on the ground, and through advocacy and culminating in a commitment to the World Bank that we would continue our funding at current levels for the next five years.

Our programme of infrastructure maintenance works on the Nyika and in Vwaza has gone well. On the conservation front, there is a mixture of good and bad news. Orchid poaching remains a real concern – and not just in Malawi - although DNPW has had some successes in arresting orchid poachers. On the plus side, we have had two recent sightings of wild dogs on the Nyika; in one instance, a pack was on a roan kill. This is an exciting development: it is the first time these charismatic canids have been seen on the Nyika in many, many years.

Tom also reported that, in the UK, we have continued our two-pronged approach of advocacy and fund-raising. In the last financial year, the UK trust has provided the Malawi trust with over £53,000 to fund conservation work on the Nyika and in Vwaza – the largest amount we have provided to date in a single year. To widen our network of supporters, we have – as many of you already know – launched a new prospectus in which we seek support for specific projects and for our endowment fund. Continuing to generate funds for our conservation work is the major challenge for the UK trust in the year ahead. For more information on this click here.

Of course, our RGS evenings are about more than the formal proceedings and it was good to see the Map Room buzzing, both before and after the event, with lots of our supporters, who took the opportunity to buy WESM calendars and also watercolours of some of the native flowers of the Nyika pained by David Kelly. These latter are available as notelets (£3.50 for a pack of five excluding p&p) – see our Merchandise page for more details.

Our next RGS evening will be Tuesday 6th November 2012. If you weren’t able to join us this year, perhaps you will be able to make it next year!