Rift Valley's long term vision for the preservation of Mozambique's natural forests takes root.
Rift Valley Forestry (RVF) advances its efforts to help preserve vulnerable habitat.The last months have seen progress made in the development of RVF's flagship conservation project in Niassa, northern Mozambique. This ambitious project in its aims to protect natural forest habitat through the creation of both an institutional management mechanism and a practical focal demonstration landscape that will combine to tackle the status quo of deforestation in Niassa.
Overview of Niassa province, Mozambique:
- Niassa is Mozambique's largest and most remote province, with a population of less than 1.2m within 12.2m hectares. The Niassa National Reserve, at 4.2m Ha, dominates the region's geography and includes some of the last remnant wilderness in Africa.
- Niassa's natural capital is therefore of global significance, as its forests contribute to one of the largest intact dryland forest ecosystems in the world (the Selous/Niassa transfrontier region, a combined area of 15m hectares)
- Niassa's natural forest is however being destroyed at an unsustainable rate. A major intervention to curb deforestation, through sustainable land use methods, is an urgent necessity to prevent the loss of forest resources.
- Rift Valley Forestry, leads the development of two initiatives in the province: the Niassa Natural Captial Association (ACNN), that is designed to provide a means of strengthening institutional capacity to deliver solutions to land use sustainability and The Luatize Integrated Resource Management Area (LAGRI), that will provide a demonstration landscape within which to illustrate forest preservation through effective models of sustainable agriculture, economic development and natural forest management. Both initiatives are innovative agents for change in the region.
The Goal of RVF's conservation initiatives, ACNN and LAGRI: To protect vulnerable habitat through the creation of both an institutional management mechanism and a practical focal project that will combine to bring change to the status quo of unsustainable land use in Niassa.
Objective: Create long term models for sustainable land use by impacting economic stability and improving livelihoods through the development of optimal agriculture and responsible natural forest management that combines to deliver sustainable revenues to local communities.
ACNN's role and impact: The ACNN will bring together a cross-section of stakeholders in the region to create a new and innovative institution that is capable of delivering proactive solutions to sustainable land use challenges throughout Niassa. The ACNN will effectively be able to provide a mechanism of landscape-scale advisory, setting the sustainability vision and goals for Niassa, whilst also assisting access to funding and guidance on
implementation to impact the speed and efficacy of change through targeted intervention.
LAGRI's role and impact: This large demonstration landscape (870,000Ha) has been earmarked (and endorsed by the Government of Mozambique) to illustrate the efficiency of combining multiple interventions within targeted, forest-stewarding communities, to bring about sustainable land use by improving agriculture and economic stability to slow
down forest destruction.
Impacting the two pillars of change: Sustainable land use: Our proposal for the preservation of Niassa's natural capital is to LAGRI, a large, managed zone adjacent to the Niassa Nature Reserve that is supported by integrated resource management interventions that combine to introduce sustainable and appropriate land use
models to the area.
Sustainable Economic Growth: Our social objective is to improve agriculture and forestry practices in the zone to deliver between $3m and $4m additional revenues per annum for the benefit of local communites and industry, whilst maintaining ecological diversity through managed and preserved miombo forests.
Without the widespread introduction of sustainable land use models within agriculture, plantation forestry and natural forest management, evidence suggests that human expansion in the region will combine to destroy or degrade much of the remnant natural forest resource in the area. Under the current low-yield shifting agricultural system, an additional 200,000 ha of land will be needed to support the Lichinga region's growing population by 2020.
By 2030, this number is estimated to be nearly 600,000ha.
Rift Valley, with the support of a cross-section of local stakeholders, aims to launch the Niassa Natural Capital Association (ACNN) in May 2017. In addition, key interventions that will impact agriculture and natural forest management within the LAGRI geography will be developed, including:
1. A reduction in 'shifting agriculture' (the practice of clearing new farmland from natural forest every two seasons). Yields of staple and cash crops increased, diversity introduced and soil health optimized to remain on the same land long-term.
2. Local communities included in the development of 'outgrower' plantation forestry; providing income and a supply of renewable woodfuel.
3. Improved local incomes through beekeeping.
4. Sustainable natural forest harvesting through well-managed community charcoal concessions.
5. Pristine wilderness areas maintained and carbon revenues optimized alongside ongoing research to monitor biodiversity hotspots.