In Mozambique, 90% of the population depends directly or indirectly on goods and services provided by biodiversity and ecosystem services. However, over the last decade there has been a significant increase in the exploitation of natural resources in Mozambique (mining, oil and gas, agriculture, forestry and fisheries) and in the creation of basic infrastructure (e.g. roads, power plants, transport lines energy, etc.), with negative and often irreversible environmental and social impacts. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP: 2015-2035), was designed to respond to national challenges, ensuring that the benefits from the sustainable use of biodiversity effectively contribute to the development of the country through the eradication of poverty and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
Mozambique's terrestrial, marine, coastal and inland water ecosystems comprise 30 natural habitats, which encompass a variety of flora and fauna species, many of which are endemic to the region. In terms of vegetation, the miombo is the most dominant vegetation type, followed by mopane and mecrusse. The country is one of the richest in plant diversity in the region. 
The diversity of species in Mozambique is estimated to be more than 6000 plants; of these, more than 300 species are in the IUCN Red List, of which 22% are endemic. The country has about 4000 species of fauna, of which insects are the most abundant group (72%), birds (17%), mammals 5% and the least abundant amphibians with 2%.
The critical ecosystems that occur along the 2700 km of the Mozambican coastline are coastal forests, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coral reefs, salt marshes, rocky shores and sandy beaches. The country’s offshore territorial waters cover an area of about 100.000km2. 
Several iconic species of touristic importance from both the terrestrial environment (elephant, lion, giraffe, hippopotamus, leopard, wild dog, buffalo) and the marine environment (manta rays, sharks, turtles, whales and dolphins) can be found in Mozambique. Mozambique’s waters are also home of the largest Dugong population in the Western Indian Ocean, estimated at 300 individuals.  
IUCN Red List threatened species in Mozambique include 53 corals, 5 amphibian species, one endemic; 29 bird species, two endemic; and 14 mammal species, two endemic of which one is endangered. Also on the IUCN Red List, there are 41 marine vertebrate species including whales, sharks, rays and other fish, five species of sea turtles and dugongs.
As of 2021, about 30% of the country is covered by protected areas and 30 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) of global importance were identified and officially recognized by the Ministry of Land and Environment (MTA). Mozambique has adhered to the High Coalition Ambition (HAC), which intends to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030. The country is a signatory to several international and regional conventions related to biodiversity (CBD, CMS, RAMSAR, CITES, Nairobi, etc.). 
The Decree no. 54/2015, of 31 December, which approves the Regulation on the Environmental Assessment Process, introduced the obligation to adequately implement the mitigation hierarchy in Mozambique, including biodiversity offsets where significant impacts to biodiversity occur, the latter to be regulated by a complementary legal instrument.  The Ministry of Land and Environment (MTA) represented by the National Directorate of Environment (DINAB) developed in 2021 a Ministerial Diploma for Biodiversity Offsets, a legal instrument that defines the principles, methodologies, requirements, and procedures for the implementation of the Hierarchy of Mitigation and Biodiversity Offsets in Mozambique. This process was supported by the COMBO Program, including WCS, BIOFUND and BIOFI.
Objectives & Activities

The COMBO Program in Mozambique aims to support the Government of Mozambique in effective implementation of the mitigation hierarchy, in particular the new biodiversity offsets regulation, development of technical tools and build capacity among all relevant stakeholders.

Some of the main activities being implemented by WCS and BIOFUND, the partners leading COMBO Program in Mozambique, include:

  • Assisting the Government in closing policy gaps, by contributing to new legislation such as: regulation on independent peer-reviewers for EIAs; adjustment of the new mining and oil and gas environmental regulations to the EIA and Biodiversity Offsets regulations;
  • Assisting the Government on developing tools to avoid impacts on biodiversity, identifying potential offset sites, developing metrics to quantify biodiversity loss and gain and improving the management and sharing of the information that is useful to apply the Mitigation Hierarchy (on a website to aggregate all biodiversity data and information available for Mozambique);
  • Providing technical assistance and intensive training to the technicians from the new Government Biodiversity Offset Assessment and Monitoring Division (Repartição de Avaliação e Acompanhamento de Contrabalanços de Biodiversidade – RAACB) who will be leading on the implementation of the new ministerial diploma and guidelines for effective application of the mitigation hierarchy and biodiversity offsets;
  • support development and implementation of restoration pilot projects  on the ground with the Government and local partners to test the biodiversity offsets regulation and provide hands on training on its effective application. We plan to investigate pilot projects in Licuáti Forest Reserve, Maputo National Park, Chimanimani National Park and Memba-Mossuril region;
  • Producing communication materials on the pilot projects for outreach, fundraising and knowledge sharing.

The Ministry of Land and Environment (MTA) has the mandate to coordinate environmental management and conservation, the sustainable use of natural resources and the management of conservation areas in Mozambique. WCS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MTA in 2017 to promote the objectives of the COMBO program through effective coordination between the institutions aimed at expanding the application of the mitigation hierarchy at the national level. The MoU was renewed in 2021, expanding the scope to other areas of collaboration such as the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas and support to spatial biodiversity assessments and planning. 

The Foundation for Biodiversity Conservation (BIOFUND) is a non-profit conservation trust fund registered under the laws of Mozambique and member of the CAFÉ Network. BIOFUND is a global partner of the COMBO Program. WCS and BIOFUND are involved in moving the mitigation hierarchy agenda forward in the country and in Africa. Since 2017 BIOFUND has mobilized more than 1.5 million USD for the implementation of the concept in Mozambique. 

The project has engaged with many other Government institutions including the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy (MIREME) and the Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries (MIMAIP); other trust funds like ProAzul and the National Fund for Sustainable Development (FNDS); NGOs such as WWF-Mozambique and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Academia like the University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) and the University of Lúrio (UniLúrio); private sector such as the Mozambican Association for Impact Assessment (AMAIA), the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA), Portucel, ENI, TOTAL, SASOL, SHELL, KENMARE, etc.


Our work in recent years has been successful with some important results across areas such as policy, technical information and capacity development.


  • Support to the development of the Regulation of the Law for the Protection, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity includes specific sections on restoration and compensation.
  • Support to the development of the Ministerial Diploma on Offsets approved by the Minister of Land and Environment in December 2021
  • Support to DINAB on the establishment of the Biodiversity Offset Assessment and Monitoring Division (RAACB) under the Environmental Assessment Department
  • National Technical Group for Biodiversity Offsets activated and operational under BIOFUND coordination
  • Joint secretariat with BIOFUND in the Advisory Group on Biodiversity Conservation Initiatives in the Licuáti Forest Reserve (RFL) and Surrounding Area in the Matutuíne Landscape created and chaired by the National Directorate of Forestry (DINAF)
  • Contribution to the Environmental Regulation for Mining Activities aligned with the EIA regulation and including biodiversity offsets
  • KBAs included in the National Territorial Plan (Plano Nacional de Desenvolvimento do Território – PNDT) and Marine Spatial Plan (Plano de Ordenamento do Espaço Marítimo - POEM) as avoidance areas and role of biodiversity offsets recognized for in improving biodiversity conservation in the country
  • Recognition of the activities associated with the implementation of Biodiversity Offsets as one of the means for the Management and improvement of bird habitat and the recognition of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) as protection areas for birds and their habitats under the new Regulation for the Protection, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Birds (Decree 51/2021)

Technical tools

  • Detailed and updated map developed for Protected Areas according with the different categories under the Conservation Law
  • Complete package on KBAs available, which includes the maps of KBAs for Mozambique, reports, an online Atlas and a Story Map
  • Preliminary Map of Historical Ecosystems for Mozambique developed with detailed ecosystem description
  • Metrics to assess the ecological condition for Miombo, Mangroves and coral reefs developed, which will allow to determine the losses and gains of biodiversity in the project impact area and offsetting areas
  • Tool developed to identify restoration areas for offsets programs based on the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM).

Capacity building and outreach

  • Over 300 people trained on the application of the mitigation hierarchy
  • COMBO training modules translated to Portuguese and made available online
  • Explanatory video on the Mitigation Hierarchy and Biodiversity Offsets in Mozambique made available online
  • Brochures on the Mitigation Hierarchy and Biodiversity Offsets developed and made available online

Hugo Costa
COMBO Project Manager - Mozambique
Wildlife Conservation Society, Rua Orlando Mendes, n. 163,
Sommerschield, Maputo, Mozambique
Tel: +258 21 49 6965

© Diane Detoeuf/WCS, © Efard Arevr/ WCS