Bazaruto Archipelago National Park was created in 1971 and was Mozambique’s first marine park. At the time the designation only applied to Benguerra, Magaruque, and Bangue islands but in 2001 was expanded to include Bazaruto and Santa Carolina islands as well.
The livelihoods of thousands of people rely on the natural resources provided by the park’s vulnerable ecosystems. Three of the islands are permanently inhabited by 5,000 local people, who are governed through traditional councils, and who rely on the area’s marine resources for subsistence and small-scale commercial fishing. It is therefore essential to implement a strong community engagement programme to create a firm foundation on which the relationship between the local communities and park management can thrive. This will ensure that local communities understand, benefit from and support the preservation of this archipelago. Also, the park contributes 20% of all tourism revenue to the local community through their respective councils to support projects that benefit the society as a whole.
The three key strategies that are used to achieve this objective are community engagement, the development of educational opportunities and enterprise development. It is essential that the local communities are heard and their questions, concerns, and needs are addressed. This will be dependent on the community engagement team who will create awareness and foster knowledge among community members about wildlife conservation and its benefits.
Education is another key factor and the aim is to provide quality educational opportunities that will support economic and social transformation while raising awareness of environmental issues. The provision of school facilities and learning materials will enable many community members to become employable and competitive in the workplace. Environmental education will also be emphasised through the creation of wildlife clubs in schools to encourage participation in initiatives such as beach clean-ups and to foster support for conservation. This will ultimately facilitate an attitude of change and awareness which will not only secure the future of the park but create one where both people and wildlife can thrive.
Enterprise development will be achieved through the growth of the sustainable tourism industry in Bazaruto National Park as it will not only create jobs but also stimulate the local economy. Income-generating projects, including aquaculture initiatives, will be explored and identified and will provide an alternative to the dependence on resources from the park.
Bazaruto Archipelago has the potential to be an exceptional marine and coastal tourism destination in East Africa, from which local communities stand to benefit through economic and employment opportunities. African Parks is working to increase community employment through tourism concessions, training local tour guides and hospitality training. This will help create a conservation-led economy and will increase the value and buy-in from local communities of maintaining Bazaruto as a protected area long into the future.
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