BIOFUND organised an exhibition and debate on the theme Maputaland- Pondoland- Albany, our responsibility, which complemented its 5th General Assembly, held on 24 May 2017 in Maputo.
Exhibition and debate on the the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot (May 2017)
The event consisted of a multimedia exhibition of incredible unpublished materials on wild life, resulting from an expedition held in the Maputo Special Reserve, by a multidisciplinary team coordinated by WildlifeMoz and Still Standing, followed by interventions by specialist guests, from which a rich debate arose moderated by Prof Dr Jorge Ferrão around the presentations:
- Main habitats and characteristics of Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany – Dr. Bruno Nhancale
- Marine fauna, flora and habitats – Dr. Marcos Pereira
- Terrestrial fauna, flora and habitats – Dr. Hermenegildo Matimele
- Criteria which led to the declaration of iSimangaliso Wetland Park as a World Heritage site by UNESCO – Andrew Zaloumis
From the interventions made, the following were stressed: the countless species of terrestrial flora present in the region, about 1,900 of which are endemic; the great diversity and endemic nature of the marine fauna, with around 129 endemic species, including mammals, birds, reptiles and freshwater fish; the 472 species of birds present in the region, of which 5 species and 42 subspecies are endemic. This hotspot, which is a meeting point for 6 of the 8 main types of biomas in the region faces, faces as imminent threats, over-exploitation, agricultural expansion, urban development, mining and climate change. This biodiversity and the rich habitats are part of our heritage and it is up to us to take the strategic decisions which can lead to its conservation and sustainable use.
Among the specialists invited, there stood out the presentation made by Andrew Zaloumis, the Executive Director of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, in South Africa – the first area in southern Africa to be considered a World Heritage site by UNESCO. He shared the day-to-day difficulties in the park, the gains made over the years, the community activities carried out and particularly the differentials that made this park be considered as a world heritage site. The UNESCO representative in Mozambique, Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum, took advantage of the occasion to invite all those present and civil society in general to become involved in advocacy in order to speed up the declaration of the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, a process that began in 2008.
The debate counted on the participation of the public, consisting of members of the conservation community, specialists and academics in various areas related with biodiversity, as well as young university students, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations, and the diplomatic community.
Of the various interventions there stood out those by Anabela Rodrigues, National Director of WWF – Mozambique who stressed “we should make a constant point of showing that when we talk about biodiversity, we are talking about ourselves, since only then will it be possible to transmit the message about conservation”, by Camila de Sousa of IIAM who praised the importance of the Forestry Reserves as areas of enormous biodiversity and true centres of endemic species, and by the Chairperson of the BIOFUND Board of Directors, Abdul Magid Osman, who, in response to the concerns raised, proposed that the conservation community should make its voice heard on the need for coherence in government policy and say no to the Ponta Dobela port project in a manifesto to be signed by all those present.