Partnerships between government authorities and local communities remain an unavoidable option for the conservation and management of natural resources and, if not taken seriously, rural development will always be doomed to failure. This position was defended by the Director General of the National Administration of Conservation Areas, Bartolomeu Soto, who spoke on one of the panels of the 5th Conference on Community Management of Natural Resources organized by the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development from 19 to 20 February , in the city of Maputo.
According to the speaker, the motivation for community involvement in partnerships for efficient management of renewable natural resources lies in the idea that there is a need to reduce existing conflicts between conservation and local communities, which need the resources protected for their survival.
The panelist explained that there are signs in the country of taking the local communities to take a proactive role, however, the established partnerships still place this group only as passive recipients of a partenalist action of the state, which ends up questioning its strength.
“There are authors who speak of a possible crisis in community-based natural resource management programs, caused by practices that lead to the uncontrolled use of resources by ‘impoverished’ populations and the imposition of land use, often culminating in the removal of the right to pasture on protected areas, without the communities being properly prepared, “he said.
The panelist explained the scenario by stating that the colonial government when it declared national parks and reserves and official coutadas did not define the role of local communities, and it was not until the 1970s that the right to meat resulting from the slaughter of trophy animals, as well as the killing of small game hunters to local communities.
Since the 1990s, the Mozambican State has begun to create guidelines for establishing legislation for the management of forests and wildlife, which has been amended and consolidated until the approval of Law 16/2014, the Biodiversity Conservation Law, which defined with clear principles of public-private partnership, citizen participation in the management of benefits and construction of community-based tourism ventures in conservation areas.
With regard to income-generating projects, he referred to the Tchuma Tchatu and Chipanje Chetu Community programs in the provinces of Tete and Niassa respectively, as well as to the Chemucane tourist developments in the Maputo Special Reserve, Ndzou Camp in the Chimanimani National Reserve, Covane Lodge in the Limpopo National Park and Zenguelemo in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, with concession contracts of about 50 years.
At the moment, local communities living in the immediate vicinity of conservation areas are benefiting from 19 projects, of which 10 are agriculture, 5 tourism and 4 beekeeping, as well as other benefits related to 20 percent of revenues from sustainable use of natural resources.
In the last 4 years, the official coutadas and farms of the wild have disbursed about 29 million meticais, while the program Tchuma Tchatu disbursed about 9 million meticais and the national parks and reserves just over 3 million meticais.