For a country with such a high population density and the concomitant demands on land for subsistence agriculture, Malawi has set aside a considerable area for the protection of its natural resources. National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and Forest Reserves incorporate 21% of Malawi's land area, one of the highest percentages on the continent, but the integrity of a number of protected areas is no longer respected. In terms of globally important natural resources Malawi is best known for its freshwater fish. Along with Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi contains a greater variety of indigenous fish than any other freshwater lake in the world, with high levels of endemism (probably more than 90% among 500 or so species, particularly cichlids).
Malawi and many other African countries face a similar array of conservation issues: these include habitat degradation, fire, illegal hunting and over-fishing, invasive alien plants, the degazetting of protected areas and the ineffective implementation and enforcement of conservation legislation. However, Malawi
boasts large tracts of pristine wilderness which are probably less exposed to environmental, population, industrial and political pressures than many neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, this could quickly change if appropriate conservation measures are not implemented and if the current conservation infrastructure is not properly maintained.
The African Bird Club made an award from its conservation fund in 2004 for a short study of Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea in Nyika National Park.