The National Directorate for the Environment (DINAB) in partnership with the COMBO+ Programme and Fauna & Flora (FFI), as part of the initiative for Integrated Management of Marine and Coastal Resources in the North of the Mozambique Channel (NoCaMo), held a seminar on 12 September 2023 in the city of Maputo. The seminar focused on identifying priority coastal and marine biodiversity components to be considered in the development of best practice guidelines for the protection of biodiversity in the Northern Mozambique Channel, especially in the context of oil and gas development. The workshop involved the participation of 41 technicians from different sectors including government, academia, local NGOs and the private sector.
The Northern Mozambique Channel is one of the richest regions in the world in terms of biodiversity. The condition of these critical ecosystems is in decline due to several combined factors, including the extractive industry, driven partly by the recent discovery of natural gas and oil in the region. In this context, the NoCaMo initiative, funded by the French Environment Fund (FFEM), aims to ensure that the high biodiversity of the Northern Mozambique Channel (e.g. coral reefs, seagrass, mangrove ecosystems) is preserved. In the case of Mozambique, the NoCaMo initiative is considered an extension of the COMBO+ Programme, to promote the application of good mitigation practices in the marine environment and runs until the end of 2025. COMBO+ is led in Mozambique by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in coordination with the Foundation for the Conservation of Biodiversity (BIOFUND).
Fauna & Flora (FF) is collaborating with WCS to develop technical guidelines for priority biodiversity components. Selection of the components will be based on scientific review and local consultation with marine experts. This exercise will be extremely useful for the preparation and review of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and to inform marine spatial planning, especially for activities related to oil and gas initiatives in Mozambique's North Channel. The second phase of NOCAMOt will involve capacity building for local authorities, to ensure effective implementation of good practice and the conservation of biodiversity as oil & gas development continues to grow in the region.
It is important to note that this seminar is part of a series of meetings being held in each of the NoCaMo countries (which also include Madagascar and Tanzania) to inform a final decision on the biodiversity components for which regional mitigation guidelines will be prepared.