A strong contingent of staff from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)’s Global Conservation Programme participated in this year’s ICCB to share research and address conservation challenges with scientists from all over the world. The event was held in Kigali, Rwanda from 23-27 July 2023.

Presentations and knowledge sharing by WCS covered topics ranging from conservation social safeguards, sustainable wildmeat management, and integrated technologies for improving the management effectiveness of protected areas, to marine spatial planning and Red List of Ecosystem and Key Biodiversity Areas Assessments.

The work by the COMBO+ programme was showcased in presentations by Hugo Costa, the Mozambique Marine Program Director, and Vanessa Rathbone, Geospatial Conservation Planner with WCS. Hugo Costa shared Mozambique’s experience with integrating biodiversity in spatial planning and decision-making processes in the country. He highlighted efforts in engaging the government to reconcile economic development and biodiversity conservation through best practice in applying the mitigation hierarchy to help achieve biodiversity targets: "The COMBO+ partners, with the government and other stakeholders, are focusing on improving policies, developing legislation to embed the mitigation hierarchy and biodiversity offsets within the national regulations and creating the technical tools and capacity to implement this."

An important initiative as part of this was the collaborative identification and mapping of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) across the country. These are priority areas for conservation and impact avoidance. Vanessa presented the assessment of the threat status of Mozambique’s ecosystems, which was done following the IUCN’s Red List of Ecosystem guidance. Alongside other partners, the COMBO+ programme supported both processes, which were highly collaborative and involved many experts and stakeholders in Mozambique and beyond.

The resulting tools include maps of KBAs, threat status of ecosystems and ecosystem types across the country, accompanied by detailed reports. This information, publicly available on the national biodiversity information platform SIBMOZ, plays a key role in enabling land use planning and decision-making that integrates nature and people’s dependence on nature.