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Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Project Summary
Development-Conservation Strategies for Integrated Coastal Management, Maputaland, South Africa and Mozambique

Revision Date: 5th October 2001

Development-conservation strategies for integrated coastal management, Maputaland, South Africa and Mozambique.


Conservation, based on an ecosystem approach, for the purposes of maintaining biological diversity, productivity and health of coastal environments; sustainable use of coastal resources through capacity- building in teaching, research, monitoring and evaluation; economic diversification and the generation of wealth through improved land management for the benefit of coastal communities.

Location: Maputaland, which straddles the three countries of South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique, is the southern part of the southeast African coastal plain.
Starting date: 1999
Partners: University of Zululand, South Africa; Agricultural Research Council, South Africa; Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique; University of Udine, Italy; Thalassography Institute of Trieste, National Research Council, Italy; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: Pretoria office and the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) platform.

Hoguane, Faculty of Sciences, University Eduardo Mondlane, University Main Campus, P.O. Box 257, Maputo, Mozambique.
Tel: 258 1 493 102, Fax: 258 1 493 049, e-mail hoguane@hotmail.com gtamb@zebra.uem.mz
Prof. Mark R. Jury, Department of Geography, Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Zululand, South Africa
Tel: 27 35 902 6326, Fax: 27 35 902 6317, e-mail mjury@pan.uzulu.ac.za


Maputaland is a world-renowned centre of endemism with a high biodiversity.  A protocol has been signed by the three national governments of South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique to co-operate in a sustainable coastal management development strategy.  This project is the start of scientific collaboration.  The guiding principle in this project is to improve the welfare of regional communities while maintaining and restoring the ecological qualities of the area, through the establishment of effective management of the Maputaland Biosphere Reserve extending from Lake St Lucia, South Africa to Maputo Bay, Mozambique. 

The main activities are as follows:  


Conservation research with a view to eco-tourism development, as part of the trans-frontier Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative. There are a number of game parks and nature reserves in the area and the research is intended to underpin their sustainable management. Environmental studies at Mabibi, Lake Sibaya, Kosi Bay and Ponto do Ouro have been undertaken by the Geography Department of the University of Zululand, who are responsible for implementation of the coastal planning, biodiversity, environmental management, and educational awareness components of the project. A regular programme of observations is undertaken every quarter along a transect perpendicular to the coast, including:  measurement of beach erosion and soil nutrients; collection of climate and near-shore current data; biodiversity assessments of animal and plant species in the coastal dune forests and grasslands; water quality analysis; socio-economic surveys of local communities, visiting tourists, conservation officers and private developers; measurement of vehicular, pedestrian and marine traffic (see reports May 2000, August 2001). From this work the carrying capacity for eco-tourism development will be determined.


Estuarine studies in Maputo Bay have been carried out by the University Eduardo Mondlane, who are responsible for implementation of the marine component of the project, including the estuarine and bay oceanography. A pilot study was conducted in 2000 aimed at determining habitats under threat and the controlling processes and parameters. Survey cruises were conducted in Incomati, Umbeluzi and Maputo River to measure: hydrodynamics and flux budgets, water quality; fisheries / marine resource exploitation; species composition, productivity and biodiversity. Potential tourism sites around Maputo Bay were also mapped. Numerical models of the dynamics and nutrients flux in the bays are being developed by the Thalassography Institute of Trieste.  


Because of the expressed concern of national conservation services as regards anthropogenic impacts on ecosystem functioning, a 'roll back' of harmful agricultural practices is envisaged. This is likely to occur in the coastal zone where soil nutrient status is poor, coinciding with the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Graduate students from Udine University (Italy) are currently studying the impacts of slash and burn agriculture on the natural environment. Interim solutions to minimise these impacts are under consideration.


A workshop on ‘Agriculture and rural economic development’ was held in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, in September 2000, for 90 stakeholders from national and provincial authorities, local farming communities, academic institutions and donor agencies. Workshop discussions focused on developing cash crops and farming systems for sustainable agriculture in appropriate zones away from the coast (near the N2 road, Makhatini Flats). Activities have included the training of farming communities and the establishment of a pilot farm for cash crops including sunflowers and maize via the Department of Agriculture, University of Zululand.

Note: Conservation management in the Maputaland Biosphere Reserve has been praised in a recent National Geographic article that highlighted successful coordination between South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique.
UNESCO-CSI is responsible for the overall co-ordination and evaluation of the activities.

Biodiversity studies conducted by the University of Zululand have provided a knowledge-base on the ecology and bio-physical interactions in the Maputaland area. It was found that the dune forests act as a nutrient sink and form a critical habitat to support tropical species of animals and plants. From this work the most sustainble forms of eco-tourism development can be recommended.


The pilot study at Maputo Bay provided baseline information on coastal resources and the influence of various physical / chemical coastal processes. This has been documented in a report: ‘Maputo Bay Coastal Zone Issues Feasibility Study’ by Dr. A. Hoguane.


As a result of the Sodwana Bay workshop (September 2000) the project has been revised to shift agricultural effort inland to nutrient-rich soils in order to achieve success. The Italian-supported Umthiza experimental farm is expected to provide training for small-scale farmers. The revised project is being considered for support by the Italian Embassy in Pretoria.  


The UNESCO CSI project seeks to develop the capacity for coastal research in relevant institutions in KwaZulu Natal and Mozambique. Marine research activities at University Eduardo Mondlane will establish the potentialities for aquaculture and recommend possible solutions to estuarine pollution.


Postgraduate collaboration to study and minimise agricultural impacts in the coastal zone has commenced, organised by the University of Udine and Zululand University in South Africa, and supported by the Government of Italy.


The revised project foresees the establishment of ecological reserves wherein the carrying capacity for eco-tourism development is carefully researched. Further inland in the Makhatini Flats of South Africa, prototype agricultural plots can be tested to improve productivity. Socio-economic and environmental data collection will continue to underpin local planning systems.  


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