On December 7th, the government of Mozambique officially merged the terrestrial Maputo Special Reserve with the marine Ponta Do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, and created something new – Maputo National Park.
Twenty years of ground laying work by Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation finally bore fruit. The 1,700-square-kilometer park is the result of a 15-year agreement signed in 2018 between ANAC and Peace Parks to jointly manage the two reserves.
The decree combining the two conservation lands into one national park also increases the legal protection to that of category two under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Under category two, national parks are “natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.”
The park protects part of one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots regarded as the most biodiverse places on earth. Since 2010, a rewilding effort has released almost 5,000 individual animals, including the reintroduction of 11 previously eradicated species, including cheetahs.
The marine portion of the new park protects Mozambique’s most important nesting beaches for endangered leatherback and loggerhead turtles. Rare dugongs are protected in the ocean waters along with several shark species and the largest population of giant trevally in the entire world.
The park and related projects are also expected to improve the livelihood of locals through sustainable development and ecotourism profits.
“We applaud the Government of Mozambique for taking this momentous step forward in enhancing the protection of a region that is unmatched in its biodiversity and eco-tourism potential,” said Peace Parks Foundation CEO Werner Myburgh.
“The establishment of Maputo National Park will further promote the outstanding tourism attractions of the area and increase awareness regionally and globally. Most importantly, national park status will greatly assist with achieving the ultimate objective of creating a self-sustaining park that generates income for communities and contributes significantly to the economy of Mozambique.”