To ensure community participation and support for the establishment of the Lake Niassa Reserve, the partnership consulted the people living in communities surrounding the lake on conservation challenges. Specifically, the team arranged exchange programs to other long-standing natural resource management projects and reached out through a variety of channels, such as radio and theater. Following education and outreach activities, interest in establishing a reserve in Lake Niassa soared, leading to a community request to increase the originally proposed length of the reserve by 40 kilometers (nearly 25 miles).
Working with local villagers, the partnership helped establish 12 community fishing councils and 10 fisheries associations that have been trained to sustainably manage lake resources, grant fishing licenses and control fishing activities in the lake. Additionally, 40 community rangers are now patrolling the lake. The management of fishing licenses and regular patrols has led to a reduction in illegal fishing activities, which has improved fish populations as well as the livelihoods of local fishermen.
In April 2011, the Government of Mozambique established the Lake Niassa Reserve – the first freshwater lake under protection in the country. The reserve covers 47,800 hectares (118,166 acres) and is adjoined by a buffer zone of 89,300 hectares (220,665 acres). As a result of partnership efforts, more than 2,000 participants from 20 communities participated in the establishment of the reserve. The declaration will help protect species and natural habitats while providing security to the people who depend on the lake for their food and livelihoods.
Although partnership activities have concluded in Lake Niassa, conservation efforts continue in the region through WWF and the participation of local partners and communities.
For more information about our work in Lake Niassa or to connect with local experts, contact us.