Recent illegal logging of the Mulanje Cedar (Widdringtonia whytei) has dramatically dropped to only seven individulas. The value of its timber has led to over-exploitation. A project, jointly led by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) and the Forest Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM), aims to replant and restore cedar populations on Mount Mulanje.
Historically the Mount Mulanje Cedar was found in large numbers across the Mulanje Massif. A survey carried out in 2004 concluded that following logging, 845 ha of Cedar forest was left on Mount Mulanje and within that area almost 33% of the trees were dead. The Forestry Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM) conducted a further survey in 2014 which found 38,138 trees alive. Extensive survey work was conducted on Mount Mulanje in January 2017 by Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust, the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi and Botanic Gardens Conservation International which only found seven surviving mature individuals. During the same survey only small pockets of natural regeneration were seen on Lichenya Plateau at sites that had not been burned following harvesting. Nearly all surveyed sites across the rest of the mountain had been burned in search of remaining wood scraps and to make it appear that sites had been harvested long ago.
The Global Trees Campaign is working in partnership with Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust and the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi to help restore populations of the Mulanje Cedar and to generate sustainable income sources for local people currently relying on harvesting timber from Mulanje Cedar. They are establishing community nurseries that will generate a sustainable income from the sale and planting of Mulanje Cedar seedlings. Conifer Specialist Group member Dan Luscombe who is Curator of the Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent has visited Malawi on two occasions in order to share his knowledge of nursery production of the Mulanje Cedar. To read more about this project please see Global Trees Campaign
Bedgebury Pinetum is very proud to be working with other partners to reverse the fortunes of the Mulanje Cedar and to restore this iconic species in its natural habit.