Community conservation in Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, Mozambique

Geographical location:

Africa/Madagascar > Southern Africa > Mozambique

Aerial view of a fishing village, Bazaruto Island, Mozambique.
© WWF-Canon / Frederick J. WEYERHAEUSER

Summary

Bazaruto Archipelago, comprised of five islands off the southern coast of Mozambique, is a protected conservation area. The warm shallow waters between the archipelago and the mainland support the most important population of dugongs in the Western Indian Ocean. Dolphins and whales are found in deeper waters and several marine turtles breed on the islands pristine beaches.

A WWF project in Barzaruto helps local communities benefit from and contribute to the conservation of their coastal and marine biodiversity in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park. This can be done by ensuring that communities receive a share of tourism revenues from the park, which should serve as an incentive for them to develop and implement sustainable approaches to natural resource management, and thus contribute to the conservation objectives of the park.

Background

BANP is one of only two marine parks within Mozambique. Covering an area of 1,430 km2, comprising the five islands and surrounding waters of the Bazaruto Archipelago, BANP provides protection to the largest and only remaining viable population of dugongs in the Western Indian Ocean; five species of sea turtles; coral reefs; whales, dolphins and other marine animals; plus several endemic terrestrial gastropods and lizards. It is also an important bird area, in particular hosting significant aggregations of Palaearctic migrant water birds.

The archipelago also supports a resident population of about 3,500 people living in seven communities. Most families are extremely poor and are strongly dependent on the use of natural resources for their livelihoods. Small-scale fishing is the primary activity and main source of income for over 70% of households. Other important activities include the harvesting of sand oysters and other marine resources, plus crop and livestock production. There are concerns that current levels of resource use may not be sustainable, and are already leading to diminishing harvests of fish and other resources, and thus reduced incomes, increased poverty and reduced food security.

The archipelago is a popular tourism destination. There are currently five functional hotels within the park, with a focus on high value, low impact tourism. These contribute substantially to the local economy and livelihoods of local residents, and are important stakeholders within BANP. In addition to employment opportunities, a portion of tourist taxes are shared with local communities.

The vision for BANP is to further develop a collaborative management approach whereby communities continue to receive a share of tourism revenues, which should serve as an incentive for them to develop and implement sustainable approaches to the use and management of natural resources, and thus contribute to the conservation objectives of the park. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to develop the capacity of communities so as to empower them to develop appropriate natural resource management practices, such that they will be better placed to manage and benefit from the natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Objectives

1) Community associations, representing the various interests of local communities, established and operational.

2) New and improved skills provided to island residents, enabling the adoption of alternative livelihood activities and reduced pressure on natural resources within the park.

3) Improved capacity of communities to monitor, evaluate their use, and make decisions towards the sustainable management of natural resources.

4) Appropriate mechanisms for revenue sharing developed, enabling the efficient transfer of monetary benefits to communities.

Solution

The project seeks to directly improve the livelihoods of the poor, specifically the community members living within BANP. The people are rural dwellers, have very limited incomes, suffer from hunger at times, and have very limited access to basic services such as health and education facilities and even shops. Due to the combination of conservation and development goals, the project is directly relevant to national and international conservation, poverty reduction and development plans, and appears to fit well with Norway’s programme for development and cooperation in Mozambique.

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