There is no contradiction between development and conservation “between looking after people, and caring for wild animals or the natural vegetation”, declared President Filipe Nyusi on 10 June.
President Nyusi was speaking at the public launch of the Foundation for the Conservation of Biodiversity (Biofund), a private, not-for-profit body, which intends to raise funds for the conservation of Mozambique’s rich biodiversity, including the consolidation of the national system of conservation areas.
Biofund has set up a Conservation Trust Fund, in order to guarantee the long term sustainability of conservation funding. As a Biofund document explains, such a Trust Fund invests part of its endowment on the international financial markets, “in order to multiply the resources made available by donors, and to guarantee funding in the very long term”.
President Nyusi declared that good governance looked after the needs of people and nature at the same time. It was a serious mistake to imagine that these needs were antagonistic, for “in reality, there can be no social well-being if there is not also a natural heritage that is well managed and well cared for”.
Because of the “false contradiction” between humanity and nature, “our natural heritage has been subjected to aggression and mistreatment”, he added. “We have to correct this situation”.
President Nyusi noted that in some countries “there is almost nothing left to protect. We don’t want to be in that position”.
He warned that “if the abuse of our wild life and of our forests continues, we run the risk of compromising our future”.
Illegal logging and poaching “are crimes against which we must fight with all our energy”, declared the President, “thus struggle must bring urgent and visible results”.
“Mozambique will be less Mozambique if we gaze passively on illegal logging and poaching. We will be less Mozambique if we are incapable of combating uncontrolled bush fires”, he continued. “We must promote effective action to repress these crimes”.
Priority should be given to the fight against poaching, and against the networks that traffic in ivory, rhinoceros horn and illegal timber. “We are coordinating action with neighbouring countries and with international organization to combat these criminal practices”, he said
Poaching and illegal logging were crimes “not only against our fauna and flora, but also against our economy”, added President Nyusi. “They are crimes against the wealth that belongs to all of us”.
“The battle will be tough”, he said, “but we see good prospects with international involvement, including the authorities of the countries which are the destination of this illegal traffic”. He was referring to China, which is the main market for ivory and for precious hardwoods, and to Vietnam, where rhino horn is said to cure all ailments from hangovers to cancer.
An essential condition for winning the battle, President Nyusi argued, was to involve the people who live in conservation areas “for there is no good conservation policy which does not begin by prioritizing the human development of the people living in the protected zones”.
“When these people are motivated and mobilised, they will be the best wardens and defenders of our biodiversity”, he said.
To date the main donor to Biofund is Germany, which has granted ten million euros (US$11.3 million) to the Biofund trust fund. At the launch ceremony German ambassador Philipp Schauer announced that this year Germany will donate a further six million euros to the Trust Fund.
“These pledges are not just a good base for successful work by Biofund”, said Schauer. “They also express our confidence in its work and in its professional team”.
Magda Lovei, the World Bank’s Practice Manager for Environment and Natural Resources, stressed the Bank’s support for Biofund – but warned that Mozambique is losing its resources at an unsustainable rate. She noted that every year the country loses 225,000 hectares of forest, and that the latest census of the Mozambican elephant population showed that it had declined by around 50 per cent between 2009 and 2014, largely due to poaching.