Biodiversity, Community, Community Development, Conservation, General, Lubombo TFCA, Maputo Special Reserve, Mozambique, Mozambique Community Development, Partnerships, Rewilding, Tourism

Government of Mozambique and Peace Parks Celebrate Inauguration of Award-Winning Membene Lodge in Maputo National Park

On 14 February 2024, the Government of Mozambique and Peace Parks Foundation celebrated the official inauguration of Membene Lodge, Maputo National Park’s latest, award-winning, tourism asset.

This new lodge is a vital step in the park’s vision to capitalise on a growing interest by local and international eco-tourists to experience Mozambique’s pristine beaches and vast vibrant landscapes firsthand, whilst contributing to protecting nature and creating jobs and livelihoods for surrounding communities. Membene Lodge creates a vital revenue stream for Maputo National Park and surrounding communities. 

One of Membene’s 24 family chalets, which accompanies 80 beds and campsites entering the mid-market at a level that would be accessible to local Mozambican tourists as well as international travellers. The three-star facility is the newest of three lodges in the park, offering a dazzling portfolio of accommodation in addition to campsites for the more adventurous traveler.

Membene Lodge is an award-winning, eco-friendly, three-star lodge situated at Ponta Membene, where the bush meets the beach. The lodge offers a mix of 24 self-catering chalets with 80 beds and campsites entering the mid-market at a level that would be accessible to local Mozambican tourists as well as international travellers.  

Architects PlanEco (PTY) Ltd were recently awarded the Pretoria Institute for Architecture’s Award of Excellence for its unique eco-design and construction, and the lodge was praised as refined and experiential. An ambitious rewilding programme has been an essential driver of both ecosystem restoration and tourism development. From 2010 over 5,100 animals and 16 species have been translocated to the park, of which 12 are reintroductions. A recent wildlife census concluded that this number has grown to at least 14,000 wild animals now living in the park.

In 2022, a second group of 26 eland was successfully translocated to Maputo National Park. It was a follow-up operation to a similar translocation in 2019, that saw 20 eland reintroduced back into the park after the species had been absent for more than three decades. It is one of 12 species returned to the park as part of an extensive rewilding programme initiated in 2010.

Unlocking Potential

The inauguration ceremony was hosted by His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, His Excellency President Joaquim Chissano, Vice-Chairman of Peace Parks Foundation’s Board of Directors and Mr Werner Myburgh, Chief Executive Officer of Peace Parks Foundation. The event celebrated a shared dedication to the restoration, management, development and long-term financial sustainability of Mozambique’s flagship national park, and the generation of significant tourism income for local communities. The park, together with Peace Parks and partners, also supports community projects, such as reproductive health, environmental education, and alternative livelihood programmes that are currently benefitting 18,810 people directly and 32,586 indirectly.

We congratulate all those involved for the excellent efforts in park restoration, raising it as a symbol of national biodiversity, and an attraction for domestic and regional tourism. Peace Parks Foundation is a proven and excellent resource mobiliser who will follow us into the future in a dedicated partnership. Our government will continue to work for the protection and development of the landscape, and conservation of ecosystems and biological diversity. We are committed to sustaining natural resources for the benefit of the present and future generations. This tireless work is supported by our partners, amongst whom Maputo National Park excels.

His Excellency Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique
His Excellency Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, inaugurated the lodge, in a vibrant ceremony underscoring the shared dedication to the restoration, management, and long-term financial sustainability of Mozambique’s flagship national park.

Maputo National Park has come a long way in its development, going from an area devoid of wildlife to a thriving ecosystem ready to welcome the world. Initially, there was only one accommodation offering in the park – Anvil Bay Lodge at Ponta Chemucane, a boutique five-star facility, followed by Montebelo Milibangalala Bay Resort.

Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation and President Joachim Chissano, Vice-Chairman of Peace Parks Foundation, welcome His Excellency Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, to Membene Lodge.

With the support of Hansjörg Wyss and the Reinet Foundation, Peace Parks Foundation invested US$5 million in the construction of Membene to enhance the park’s allure for international, regional and local tourists who want to experience pristine nature and, more importantly, to catalyse positive change by empowering and enriching the lives of local communities. With this latest investment and the anticipated revenues to be generated, the park is on track to cover its own operational costs by 2032.

Mr Werner Myburgh, Chief Executive Officer of Peace Parks Foundation

Tourism is extremely important for Mozambique as prior to the 2020 global pandemic and associated travel restrictions, it contributed 6.2% to the country’s GDP. It also supports the communities who receive 20% of the revenue generated by national parks in Mozambique, over and above the employment opportunities it unlocks.

Collaboration at Scale

Part of Africa’s first transboundary marine protected area, Maputo National Park is a 1,795 km2 core component of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area. It was proclaimed as a national park in 2021 when Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve merged under one management system. Peace Parks Foundation has been supporting the development of this area since 2006 and, in 2018, signed a 15-year agreement with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) to jointly restore, protect and develop the area. At the outset, the park was plagued by poaching, devoid of wildlife and infrastructure, and lacking capacity to protect ecosystems and uplift communities.

With funding from the World Bank through MozBio, a community and park development programme, it has since seen significant investment in skilled management staff and essential infrastructure needed to efficiently manage the park. This included headquarters offices, park gates, road infrastructure, staff accommodation and a range of protection facilities. In 2023, an entrance gate at Machangulo, a surveillance tower in Ponta do Ouro and a staff house at Santa Maria were constructed. In addition, a research and training centre was also upgraded, and a new field ranger base was constructed, which will greatly improve the living and working conditions of security personnel in the park. Equipping the upgraded research and training centres was partly funded by winnings from Park Warden Miguel Goncalves’ Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa. These facilities will foster awareness and expose young people visiting the park to the importance of nature conservation.

Nestled in the dune forests, eco-friendly Membene Lodge marks a subtle and unique tourism offering at the beautiful bush-to-beach interface, where the park’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems meet. Visitors have easy access not only to game viewing and bird watching but also a host of coastal and ocean activities, with a range of other accommodation options to choose from.
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