Projects that impact Preservation of Habitat and Biodiversity
The region known as the Rovuma Landscape is a trans-frontier area of approximately 280,000kms flanking north and south of the Rovuma river. The Landscape spans parts of Southern Tanzania and Northern Mozambique and is considered one of the few remnant wilderness areas of Africa. It includes two great conservation areas; the famed Selous and Niassa Game reserves, and a chain of wildlife corridors between and surrounding them. This same area, home to Africa’s second largest elephant population and a region historically lightly populated by people, has recently seen one of the fastest human population growths in East Africa. Discoveries of plentiful oil, gas and minerals have given rise to an unprecedented risk of socio-ecological upheaval and unsustainable development, posing a long term threat to both the livelihoods of local populations and conservation efforts within the Landscape.
In the face of these rapidly changing circumstances, Rift Valley Forestry is acutely aware of the need for a conservation focused intervention within the wider region of its present and future plantation operations. Rift Valleys’ response is the application of an ambitious vision that introduces a plausible development plan to the Sanga and Muamba regions of Niassa; a strategy that provides a community partnership of integrated development planning to half a million hectares bordering the Niassa reserve, forming part of the Rovuma Landscape wilderness. The initiative will help stem widespread unsustainable land use and permanent deforestation, whilst bringing long term value to the land and long term prosperity to its people.
The key to the success of the proposal will be in identifying methods of environmental protection through an enabling setting of economic and social gain for local communities. This economic activity must be appropriate to local needs whilst being grounded in viable business best practice. Detailed research into what drives success in this field suggests a focus on fundamental prerequisites will lead to sustainable economic growth in the region. These fundamentals include:
1. Secure commercial rights for local people and investors
2. Enhanced capacity for local grass roots business and agriculture
3. Availability of ethical investment, technology and service provision
Rift Valley has therefore committed to being the catalyst in this process, shaping a strategy to bring about the required political and social will to drive this vision and planning to fruition. Strategic partners are being engaged to create a strong core of like-minded community elders, businessmen, politicians, conservationists, NGO’s and academics that will together build a feasible model of sustainability for the area. We will then look forward to a comprehensive chain of positive outcomes that will include:
- Halting the rapid and devastating advance of the pattern permanent deforestation advancing through Niassa.
- The preservation of large tracts of managed and pristine miombo woodlands that maintain species diversity and populations.
- The creation of a habitat buffer zone to protect the Niassa Nature Reserve’s south western border from pressure by surrounding communities.
- Improved knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices leading to increased yields for local communities, poverty alleviation and food security.
- The implementation of a strategic plan to manage locally controlled natural forest, through a wide range of sustainable economic activity.
- The management of commercial plantation that locks in long-lasting value to land between well-designed non-plantation corridors.
- The confirmation of Rift Valley Forestry as a global leader in forest management practices, with project Plant and Preserve as a benchmark resource management model.
As part of Rift Valley’s Conservation and Sustainability initiatives in northern Mozambique’s Niassa province, we are introducing the principles of Miombo Forest Management to communities in the Sanga and Muamba areas.
An intervention is necessary to prevent widespread deforestation of this remote area. Training teams will be deployed to illustrate the clear advantages of forest sustainability to villagers, who will learn how to identify where most value can be gained from forest products and what associated businesses can be set up without permanent damage to biodiversity.
Whilst Rift Valley’s own tobacco growers are provided with a sustainable supply of solid fuel for curing their crop, we recognize the devastating effect that some growing has on local forest cover.
As a step towards helping address the problem, we are engaging developers of high tech solutions to tobacco curing in order to roll out trials within rural areas which will reduce cutting of trees. Through identification of the most advanced and appropriate technology (incl solar), the future of this important cash crop for poor communities will be sustainable.
In addition, Northern Tobacco contributes over $1m annually to the Sustainable Afforestation Association, who in turn have an established program to plant 12 million trees per annum specifically for fuelwood for tobacco growers.