Maputo — The World Bank has pledged to disburse 45 million US dollars over the next five years to support the sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources in Mozambique, through the second phase of the MozBio project.
Speaking in Maputo at a meeting of Conservation Areas, the World Bank country director, Mark Lundell, said that the first phase of MozBio, launched in 2015, showed that the sustainable management of biodiversity "can contribute to improving the life of local communities".
It had involved more than 20,000 beneficiaries in various community development sub-projects which helped boost income generation opportunities among communities living inside several conservation areas. Lundell said more than half these beneficiaries "are women living in remote areas and with very limited opportunities".
Phase 1 of MozBio had also brought 1.8 million hectares under strengthened protection, and had assisted private-public partnerships in the management of conservation areas.
Lundell said Phase 2, under the theme of "Sustaining Biodiversity", will promote rural value chains around conservation areas "in order to reduce the pressure on biodiversity through promoting rural businesses".
He believed that such rural businesses would be "a fundamental tool for income generation and for the entrepreneurial spirit in rural areas.
Lundell stressed the importance of a strengthened and more professional management of the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), as a key institution in the protection of biodiversity.
He warned that, without strengthening ANAC, "it could be difficult to sustain the successes achieved to date". MozBio 2 would contribute to this by financing the ANAC Business and Co-Management Unit, as a body "that will support most of the activities that contribute to the technical and financial sustainability of the national network of conservation areas, through the promotion of commercial investments, marketing and involvement of co-management partners".
The Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, stressed the importance of the MozBio financing in strengthening the capacity of the government to face the threats to the conservation of the country's natural capital, and to reduce the levels of poverty in rural communities.
Correia thanked the World Bank and the government's other partners "who have assisted us tirelessly, in various ways, with the aim of improving the management of the conservation areas".
Correia told the meeting that there has been a significant reduction in poaching over the last nine months. In the country's largest conservation area, the Niassa National Reserve, there has been a decline in poaching of 73 per cent, which the Minister attributed to the government's decision to dispatch a specialist police unit to the area.
There is now a joint command for the reserve which includes the police, public game wardens, and the wardens employed by private operators. Aircraft had been introduced to strengthen monitoring capacity in the reserve, and Correia believed they had made an important contribution to cutting the level of poaching.
Over the last four years, the Minister said, 1,513 people had been arrested on charges of poaching, and 497 firearms had been seized from poachers. 348 camps used by poachers had been destroyed, and 41,967 snares and traps had been found and dismantled.
In the battle against the trafficking in wildlife products, the authorities had seized 5,992 kilos of ivory. Most of this (3,487 kilos) was found in a single seizure of a container in Maputo port.
Correia also noted a gradual increase in the arrests of individuals attempting to smuggle ivory and rhinoceros horns out of the country. There had been 29 such arrests over the past four years in the county's airports - mostly in Maputo International Airport. He added that a unit of sniffer dogs has been trained to detect people attempting to smuggle illegal wildlife goods out of the country. The unit will be deployed first to Maputo airport, but with a perspective of expansion to other airports.
Correia claimed that cooperation between the Mozambican and South African authorities in the area of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park led to a significant reduction in the poaching of rhinos between 2017 and 2018.