Mozambique increases its biodiversity protection efforts through a new project

May 25, 2018

On 23 of May 2018, Mozambique Government, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), launched a biodiversity protection project in Maputo to strengthen the conservation of endangered species in the country.

The 16.5 million project, which will be implemented until 2024 was jointly launched by the Deputy Minister for Land, the Environment and Rural Development (MITADER), Ms. Celmira Da Silva, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Marcia de Castro and Gorongosa National Park Restoration Project Foundation Chairperson, Greg Carl.

The six-year funding is intended to strengthen the conservation of globally threatened species in Mozambique through the implementation of the Conservation Act as well as the implementation of mitigation actions against poaching in communities living in parks and buffer zones. These activities will contribute to a better use of biodiversity, as well as the expansion of conservation areas through the establishment of community conservation areas aligned with actions directed to rural development.

The Government of Mozambique is committed to the biodiversity protection agenda and has established the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) as an operational arm that ensures the integral management of the conservation areas, with the commitment to ensure that these preserve endangered species which can still be found in the country. Currently, local communities have shown a tendency to expand further into conservation areas as a result of population growth, where they seek subsistence activities that if not well managed, threaten wildlife and forestry resources leading to their unsustainable exploitation and destruction at an alarming rate, nullifying the conservation gains achieved in recent years.

According to MITADER Deputy Minister, Celmira Da Silva, one of the priority areas of government is the preservation of natural resources and environment, for a balanced and sustainable development of the national territory. Therefore, her Ministry and its partners have begun to prepare concrete actions for the protection of species threatened with extinction.  "With this project, the Government of Mozambique intends to strengthen biodiversity conservation programs, with emphasis on the components to combat poaching and illegal trafficking of wildlife products," Ms. Da Silva said during the launch ceremony.

Conservation efforts have increased significantly in Mozambique since the end of the armed conflict in 1992, but there are still considerable threats affecting both terrestrial and marine biodiversity. The considerable increase in wildlife crime heightens the already existing pressures caused by uncontrolled subsistence hunting by communities living in the park and buffer zones. Since 2014, poaching has increased dramatically affecting several species including those that are in extinction, including elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards among others. The international market for wildlife products is still low risk for traffickers and is highly profitable.

As an example, the UNDP resident representative in Mozambique, Márcia Castro, revealed that more than 2,600 elephants were killed in the Niassa reserve in the period 2010-2014, which is a problem of environmental development as well as security. "So we are aware that we need to redouble our political, institutional and financial efforts and commitments if we are to reverse the current trends in this illicit activity," she said.

Gorongosa Restoration Project Chairperson, Greg Carl believes this is yet another initiative to protect biodiversity, sensitive forest and promote income for the families living in Gorongosa. Among the actions carried out by the government and partners in favor of the maintenance of flora and fauna, stand out the approval of the law of conservation and strategy, its regulation, the action plan for the conservation of biological diversity in Mozambique.

Of the amount allocated for this project, about $ 7.5 million will support the establishment of three new community conservation areas, effectively expanding the Gorongosa National Park, as well as community co-management models that will be officially established in the Mecula Corridor -Marrupa in the Niassa National Reserve.

The remaining amount (equivalent to US $ 3.7 million) will support the implementation of the national strategy to combat poaching, illegal wildlife trafficking and forest crime through a coordinated approach among the various governmental entities; combating wildlife crime on the ground by strengthening enforcement operations in conservation area complexes directed as a result of joint management efforts between the ANAC and the Gorongosa Restoration Project (GRP ) in Gorongosa National Park, and between ANAC and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the Niassa National Reserve, two national conservation areas with more than 52,000 square kilometers of surface area for the conservation of flora and fauna of international importance (equivalent to US $ 4.0 million).

There will also be support to ANAC's institutional capacity to generate knowledge in order to better capitalize on the lessons from this project (equivalent to US $ 1.2 million).

The project is anchored in the Global Wildlife Program (GWP), a Global Partnership on Wildlife Conservation and Crime Prevention for Sustainable Development through reducing poaching, reducing illicit trafficking and reducing demand.

Other initiatives include the elephant and rhino conservation action plan, which are the favorite species of poachers.

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