Projecto Vamizi | WWF Mozambique

Projecto Vamizi

A Ilha do Vamizi é potencialmente rica em Biodiversidade. rel=
A Ilha do Vamizi é potencialmente rica em Biodiversidade.
© Isabel da Silva_WWF


In 2010 an MoU was signed between WWF and CDIL (Cabo Delgado Investments Ltd) for the co- management of the conservation effort in the Maluane Islands in the Quirimbas archipelago. The Maluane Island are the historic name for the string of islands in the area and for this reason the project focuses on Vamizi and Rongui Islands. As a result of climate change and over exploitation of marine resources globally, the Vamizi marine ecosystem is fast becoming one of the world’s most important sites for its pristine coral reefs and high tourism otential. The overall goal of the Vamizi project is to protect and where possible enhance the biodiversity of the area in cooperative management with local communities.

Main Objectives/goals

Objective 1

Promote the establishment of a Protected Landscape around the Maluane Islands (Vamizi, Rongui, Tecomaji and Metundu) to incorporate sanctuaries and recreational areas with cooperative community management within 3-5 years.
An integral part of the establishment of a protected landscape is the establishment of a network of sanctuaries around the islands. Working sanctuaries demonstrate commitment and could lead to the possible gazettment of a national level protected area or even international level i.e World Heritage Site.

The local fishermen on and around Vamizi have always understood that sustainable fishing is their only reliable source of food and income. The older men in the village have often told us that the fish catches used to be so much better when they were young and that since the influx of fishermen from other areas, the quantity and quality of their catches have diminished.

With this in mind, the project helped the locals to create a Community Fishing Council (CCP), an extension of the Ministry of Fisheries, made up of fishermen from Vamizi village and Olumbe village on the mainland, who traditionally share the same fishing grounds around Vamizi. This effectively gives them legal authority over the local fishing grounds and sanctuary that surround much of the Vamizi concession and how they should be fished and conserved. It was the community who initiated the sanctuary and legally they have the only management right there. The sanctuary extends 3 km from the beach on the eastern end of the island.

During the very successful marine surveys that have been undertaken around Vamizi, a group of internationally recognised marine biologists were able to give the village examples of how other local fisher communities around the world manage their resources, including leaving some areas as sanctuaries that allow for fish populations to build up and to replenish neighbouring fishing grounds. In some cases, up to 80% increases over a relatively short period.Now, Vamizi’s Community fisheries council (CCP) working with WWF and the island Community Development Team are working to have the Vamizi sanctuary extended. That the decision should come from the communities themselves is something of a breakthrough here in Mozambique and demonstrates clearly that they want to take responsibility for the effective management of their natural resources. It is the combination of recognised scientific knowledge and local experience and know-how that will ensure a long-lasting and sustainable marine conservation programme.

Wider vision We are investigating the possibility of applying for the gazettment of a World Heritage Site within the Quirimbas region in cooperation with IUCN. This part of marine East Africa is increasingly being regarded by experts as the ‘coral cradle’. We also fall within the coral triangle that stretches to the Seychelles. The Vamizi reef ecosystem is increasingly being regarded as one of the worlds most important reefs for biodiversity and resilience to climate change. It is also one of the worlds best dive sites.

Objective 2

Development and implementation of a comprehensive Conservation Action Plan for the Vamizi Project that maintains and enhances the marine and terrestrial environment and includes positive engagement with local government and communities for a balanced approach to conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.

WWF was asked to partner with the concession holders in order to carry on their conservation effort in the area. To this end WWF was in the process of completing a Conservation Action Plan that would outline the necessary interventions to ensure the environment remains pristine. The CAP would outline all interventions of the conservation effort with long term sustainability and community at its heart. The concessionaires are dedicated to conservation and community and in a cooperative approach will carry out interventions that maintain the pristine environment. However there are issues that need to be addressed. Unsustainable fishing practices by transient fishermen from Mozambique and Tanzania are a threat to the fish stocks around the islands and will be addressed by the project. Erosion of dunes around Vamizi would, unless checked, be a disturbance to turtle nesting on these unspoilt beaches. The WWF project is growing cuttings of indeginous plants to revegetate eroding dunes and thus protect against erosion as well as replanting areas of mangrive forest WWF is providing technical advise on a wide range of issues for environmental protection including waste management and appropriate and sustainable technologies.

Objective 3
Establishment of reliable baseline data of coral reef quality, to show progress of conservation action, and to gather data on environmental and meteorological parameters as part of a long term assessment of potential impacts from climate change and oil/gas exploration and extraction.

The Vamizi Project has 7 years of research and monitoring data to fall back on to guide management decisions. An on-going monitoring programme for turtles on Vamizi and Rongui, carried out by the WWF Conservation Monitors provides valuable data on turtle nesting behaviour and patterns to help us detect changes and respond quickly. We are also collect climatic and pollution data. Practically there is little we can do about climate change. The main impact will be sea level rise. This is a good reason to put all new villas and structures back 50 m from the high water mark. Unless we do so and unless we stabilise the primary dunes by revegetation, then villas will be inundated will sea water.

Objective 4

Establishment of a world class Marine Conservation and Research Centre on Vamizi Island. It will have the dual purpose of marine conservation research and interpretation of research and conservation issues, and encourage links with research groups both in the region and internationally. A component of the WWF Project is to establish a world class Marine Conservation and Research Centre (MCRC) on Vamizi. This pristine marine environment is gaining increasing international attention from the marine science community and we intend to provide facilities to enable this community to center their research activities here. The more information we can gather on the marine world i.e dolphin, humpback whale, turtles and coral reef, the better we can anticipate negative impacts. The coast of East Africa is diminishing in quality from over fishing and destructive fishing practices. Pollution from the mainland, climate change, possible effects of oil and gas exploitation could all impact on this environment. Appropriate and task oriented research and monitoring will help provide ammunition to combat negative impact and provide data for management interventions. The MCRC will be developed to attract international researchers and volunteers to study this ristine environment. Additionally this will help put the Vamizi ecosystem on the international map.

Objective 5

Provision of interpretative and promotional opportunities to
encourage international, national and local members of the public to engage in conservation actions and support to fundraising activities.
On Vamizi island an interpretation centre is under construction to provide interpretative services to lodge guests, communities and visiting scientists. This will be a high quality facility with a constantly changing display of marine and terrestrial life. A nature trail that winds through the forest is being developed that crosses the island in about 1 hour and provides a glimpse into the forest world of Vamizi.