Baia de Inhambane Mangrove Study


The Inhambane Bay mangroves cover an area of approximately 5800 ha. Because local communities are dependent on this habitat they have sought to establish manage and enforce nine no-take zones in an attempt to protect the mangrove fauna as well as the juvenile reef fish and other species that use the bay as a nursery habitat. As a result, harvesting of fauna and any other use of the land is prohibited either year round or for certain established periods and these rules are enforced by the local fishing council in co-operation with government departments and policing authorities. Furthermore, they actively replant mangrove seedlings.

Although conservation measures are in place and monitoring is rigorous, the effectiveness of these zones has not yet been ecologically quantified. There are insufficient baseline data about Inhambane Bay in terms of ecology and biodiversity and no active scientific work plan for establishing and tracking those parameters. Our two main aims are (1) to document the ecology and diversity of the Inhambane mangroves using both scientific methods and traditional knowledge and (2) to examine the effectiveness of community-designated no-take zones.

Aside from providing key ecological data that will be useful to management authorities and policy-makers, a very important aspect of our project is to merge local communities with scientific groups to facilitate understanding, experience and knowledge. The no-take zones already established within Inhambane Bay have been sited based on traditional ecological knowledge. These are managed and enforced by traditional authorities, government, rule of law and local NGOs. By collaborating with communities we will be able to paint a much more accurate picture of the Inhambane Bay ecosystem. Furthermore, effective conservation and management happens when people understand and relate to the reasons for these measures. We aim to learn all there is to know about the environment that they have relied on so closely for centuries from the people that have lived here. Their input and solutions are just as important as ours because these are the people who live with the outcomes of ecologically-based management decisions.