Mozambique: Leading the Way on the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas

By Hugo Costa | May 21, 2021

Rhampholeon nebulauctor, a threatened chameleon (Vulnerable) endemic from Mount Chiperone KBA, credit: Harith Farooq

This year, on Endangered Species Day and the International Day for Biodiversity, 29 KBAs are being presented to the country and the world by the Minister of Land and Environment of Mozambique.

In 2016, a participative process that lasted several years and included academia and some of the world’s leading nature conservation organizations, including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), led to the establishment of the KBA Partnership, which promotes the identification, documentation and conservation of KBAs. That same year the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its Global Standard for KBAs.

An African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), one of the trigger species of the Niassa Special Reserve KBA, which hosts one of the largest known global populations of this species. Credit: Thomas Retterath

Mozambique has a notable abundance of natural resources and biodiversity that are vital pillars for the country’s sustainable development.

That project, now concluded, was one of the first initiative worldwide to conduct a comprehensive national KBA assessment, applying the 2016 Global Standard to a whole range of biological groups and elements (insects, freshwater fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, plants, ecosystems and marine biodiversity).

Niassa Special Reserve KBA Landscape. Credit: Valdemar Jonasse

The Mozambican State is committed to preserving its biodiversity through its implementation of international agreements and conventions.

The terrestrial KBAs occupy 17 percent of Mozambique’s continental territory and the marine 1 percent of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These areas are now available in the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas.

Apalis lynesi, endemic bird from Mount Namuli KBA. Credit: Ross Gallardy

The government is integrating KBAs into its National Plan for Territorial Development, as well as its Marine Spatial Plan, as areas to be preserved.

The project also expanded capacity-building, with 130 technicians trained to identify KBAs and assess Red Lists, including 8 young Mozambican biologists trained to organize data and conduct Red List and KBA assessments. Additionally, the project brought in Mozambican fauna specialists on the IUCN Regional Species Survival Commission. Project information will be collected at a new biodiversity web portal, which is currently under development.

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus), one of the trigger species from Tofo KBA, which is among the 10 largest known global aggregation sites for this species. Credit: Derek Keats

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.