MICAIA’s work on Sustainable Management of Natural Resources
Sustainable land use is essentially about balancing the rights and needs of rural people with national ambitions for economic growth and food production (balancing ‘development’ with local livelihoods and sustainable resource use). Agriculture and commercial forestry are important sectors in Manica Province, and much of the province is covered by concessions. With limited resources despite their best efforts the authorities struggle to monitor offtake and there is little doubt that deforestation is escalating with serious implications for loss of carbon stock. Linking this with the spread of rural populations into forest areas in search for more land (in some cases because their former farmland has been ‘privatised’) it is not surprising that Manica Province is a focus of much interest in relation to REDD+.
In forest areas such as Moribane Forest Reserve, one of the places MICAIA works, population growth and unsustainable agricultural practices have led to carbon loss of up to 3% per year – meaning that forests are disappearing fast.
The lack of investment in diversifying local livelihoods makes it difficult to find a suitable balance between the understandable search, by growing communities, for new land and livelihood opportunities, and the broader need for conservation of natural resources.
Established conservation areas are poorly managed and establishment of additional conservation areas is undermined by a mix of limited resources and competition from private interests.
Lack of energy security in growing urban areas places greater strains on forest resources.
Our perspective….and what we’re doing
We maintain that amongst the most critical of all assets are natural resources – soil, water, and forests in particular. These resources sustain life and provide a basis for sustainable livelihoods and form a critical element of individual and community wellbeing.If the natural resources on which so many people depend are exploited unsustainably, even in a generation the very foundation of prosperity and wellbeing will have been irretrievably undermined. Achieving wellbeing in this regard therefore means putting in place measures such as community natural resource management groups, locally supported conservation zones and viable livelihood opportunities to ensure that available natural resources are managed and not exploited.
Our work includes:
Balancing conservation and livelihoods in the Chimanimani Transfrontier Conservation Area – MICAIA has worked in the Chimanimani TFCA since 2009, and we are currently working as lead local partner with Kew Gardens (UK) and IIAM (Mozambique) in a project funded by Darwin (UK) that combines botanical research with using results from research to guide livelihood investments. We are reaching hundreds of families across 40+ villages throughout the forest areas that cover more than 100,000ha. In 2014 activities included the strengthening of local community resource management institutions; training of volunteer community rangers and the identification of main natural resource based livelihood opportunities to be supported by this project.
In a closely linked project, supported by our partner IIED (UK), we have coordinated extensive socio-economic research in natural resource dependent communities, and piloted investments in livelihoods that could go to scale as part of a REDD approach. These investments in the Chimanimani TFCA include beekeeping (part of which involves a 4km of what will be a 15km line of suspended beehives forming a fence to keep elephants out of local farms), tourism (see NDZOU Camp), and research and development into other natural resources such as Ximenia.
Since 2010 results of our work in the TFCA have included enabling communities to map and create management plans for their traditional areas and to secure government-backed certificates to protect their land. We have trained dozens of community forest rangers, and set up the Moribane Forest Learning Centre with seed store, herbarium and training facilities.
In the Chimanimani Mountains we have also worked with Kew Gardens and Mozambican botanists to facilitate the first botanical survey of highland grasslands and to work with the local communities to increase understanding of natural resources, their potential for tourism, and other livelihood opportunities eg sustainable harvest and trade of wild mushrooms.