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28 October 2022
Marine and coastal protection within the Maputo Environmental Protection Area, Mozambique, has been given a significant boost with a €5.9m grant awarded to Peace Parks Foundation and ADRA Germany as sub-grantee, by Blue Action Fund through funding from the Green Climate Fund. This will see a consortium of partners implement select projects together with Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC). Initiatives will fall under an ecosystem-based adaptation programme focused on conserving and building the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities against the impacts of climate change.
In 2019, the Government of Mozambique proclaimed the establishment of the Maputo Environmental Protection Area, bringing diverse land-use areas under one umbrella and substantially boosting the protection of this part of southern Mozambique. Two years later, conservation areas within this Environmental Protection Area – Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve – were officially combined and declared as Maputo National Park, taking it to a higher protection level.
The park, co-managed by ANAC and Peace Parks Foundation, falls within the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area (TFCRA) and is one of the most biologically diverse and endangered ecoregions on Earth. It hosts unique terrestrial and marine ‘carbon sink’ habitats, connecting fresh inland water systems, swamp forests and grasslands with mangrove forests, healthy seagrass beds and a kaleidoscope of coral reefs.
The pristine coastline of more than 100 km and an 18 nautical miles ocean protection zone provide a safe haven to a wide variety of marine life. This includes many endangered species, such as migratory whales and dugongs. The park is also considered a nesting hotspot for critically endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles in Mozambique and the south-western Indian Ocean. Approximately 80% of these species’ populations which visit Mozambique’s 2 470 km coastline each year come to nest here. On land, an expansive long-term restoration initiative led by ANAC and Peace Parks, with funding support from Mozbio, has seen nearly 5 000 animals from 11 terrestrial mammal species translocated to the 1 700 km² park since 2010, proliferating to a wildlife population of just over 12 000.
There aren’t many places where the largest marine animal, the whale, can see the largest terrestrial animal, the elephant. It’s a place where ecosystems meet to create world class supernature.Antony Alexander, Peace Parks Foundation Programme Manager for the Lubombo TFCRA
Blue Action Fund, founded in 2016, has become one of the world’s largest public funders promoting marine conservation and sustainable livelihoods in coastal communities. Their support allows for the implementation of a first-of-its-kind programme that considers all the elements of the landscape holistically over a five year period.
It aims to address the challenges of coexistence throughout the coastal zone, where 23 vulnerable communities are heavily resource reliant. The unsustainable use of natural resources is increasingly hazardous, and in order to address issues such as deforestation on land, overfishing on the coast and pollution on both calls for an approach that is sensitive to the needs of the communities and an understanding of current impacts and future risks.
Four pillars, four habitats
The Ecosystem-based Adaptation programme is designed around four pillars that focus on improving governance of the marine protected area, and the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of ecosystems, as well as uplifting livelihoods and resilience to climate change, and enhancing knowledge and expertise to equip people with skills to better manage the coastal zone.
The knowledge gained through the programme will encourage decision-making and participation amongst communities and organisations. Sitting at the core of the programme are four highly functional, beneficial habitats: mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs and dune systems. These are interlinked, and directly connected to climate. Restoring and then conserving them will directly benefit the flora, fauna and coastal communities, making them significantly more resilient to events such as flooding, failing crops or severe drought.
Livelihoods and learning
It’s very important to note that the support offered to communities would not have happened unless there was a protected area. All of this is done with the support of that park that is collaborating with all role players – whether it’s community, civil society or government.
This is one of the largest programmes to take both the conservation and community perspective. It allows us to continue to expand our community and livelihood initiatives, whilst protecting the region. It will also enable us to start working much closer to Inhaca Island, which is to be included in the park’s marine protection.Anthony Alexander
With current initiatives only just starting to gather steam, the island is a golden opportunity. Improving awareness and education, as well as strengthening the tourism aspect, can make the most of Inhaca’s excellent prospects, including revenue benefits for the park and the people who rely on it.
Learning as well as earning empowers local communities to weather climate upheaval. Within the community programme being implemented by partner ADRA Germany are other local organisations bringing expertise in knowledge exchange. ADRA Germany and ADRA Mozambique are part of a worldwide ADRA-network that supports people in need through long-term, cooperative development projects. Agriculture, health, education and nutrition, and promoting economic and mental well-being, are a focus, as well as projects for women, children and senior citizens.
A large portion of the community livelihood programme will be implemented by ADRA Mozambique, Associação do Meio Ambiente (AMA) and Livaningo. The latter is taking a pioneering socio-environmental approach which will be contributing to good governance, social justice and community welfare around natural resources, whilst AMA will work on the integrated aquaculture, beekeeping and fisheries management. Centro Terra Viva adopts environmental research and advocacy as their focus, providing support for communities’ conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity through research and monitoring of fisheries, and coastal and marine ecosystems and species.
Impact at scale
The programme is closely aligned with Mozambique’s own environmental strategy, which defines adaptation and climate risk reduction as a national priority. Restoring and reinvigorating this area, and generating change which can stay on course over the long-term, can set precedents in both conservation and collaboration for the country. With a broader perspective, it is proposed to be a lighthouse for conservation at large, motivating similarly holistic programmes to protect large landscapes, and using a creative approach that is scalable and responsive to the global pace of change.