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Environmental protection and tourism development: a balance is possible

PHARO – Protection of coastal and marine habitats in the Quirimbas National Park for food security and economic development

Promoting inclusive economy while taking care of one of the last natural paradises on Earth

Mozambique is experiencing numerous changes: a relative young nation that, after gaining independence from Portugal and going through a civil war, is growing fast today. The interest of the touristic industry and the discovery of gas field  trigger the request of services that local population cannot satisfy at the present, making the need to safeguard the delicate local natural resources even more impending. Protecting the environment and fostering local population well-being is an urgent challenge. Ecotourism gives us the opportunity to win it.

Within the PHARO project we have been working since 2014 on the coastal area and on the islands of the Quirimbas National Park, the richest park in Mozambique for its biodiversity. Our goal is to safeguard the balance of local ecosystems and provide, at the same time, sustainable economic alternatives to the population, 70% of whom lives under the poverty threshold.
The resources provided by this unique and precious environment, if used and managed in a responsible and planned way, may represent a real development opportunity for local communities, whose survival is mainly based on traditional fishing. Unsustainable activities and overfishing threaten the conservation of natural heritage on which economy and food security of the populations depend. We want to stop this vicious circle starting from the promotion of sustainable fishing, in order to help maintain fish stocks without further depleting the delicate coastal and marine habitats. We did it providing trainings to 20,000 local fishermen, in order to strengthen their technical and management skills. Being aware of the relation between environmental degradation and poverty is crucial: that’s why we promoted several awareness raising activities, among which social theatre and environmental education manuals for students and teachers.
We also worked to increase knowledge about natural resources across the territory and their conservation state through detailed monitoring activities. Results confirm that the Quirimbas Park represents a priceless resource: 150 hours spent doing research on the field allowed us to record almost 1,200 specimens of 51 different birds species, more than 500 invertebrates of almost 80 species and 54 marine mammals of 3 different species.
In order to strengthen local economy we decided to invest in sustainable tourism, an answer to the question: why should populations in need be engaged in the preservation of resources? One of the most important results of this project is the construction of Casa das Garças, a lodge that promotes a sustainable and inclusive tourism on Ibo island. Thanks to the collaboration with Architetti Senza Frontiere we created a place for travellers and researchers who love nature and work to protect it.
Find out more on the website Casa das Garças.


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