Mozambique is one of the few Sub-Saharan countries with significant natural forest cover. Native forests and woodlands cover 43% of land-mass (344,000 km2), harboring extensive biodiversity and unique landscapes. Rapid deforestation, however, is threatening ecosystems and rural livelihoods; with slash and burn agriculture responsible for more than 65% of forest cover loss across the country. In the central-coastal region, Zambezia Province is home to lush forests, fertile soils, river systems and an extensive coastline. Covering over 100,000 km2, Zambézia offers untapped opportunity for sustainable and equitable economic growth through agriculture and industry. Yet as one of the poorest but most populous provinces in the country, challenges such as rapid population expansion and poor management of natural resources threaten fragile rural livelihoods.
Above average rates of population growth and rural poverty are driving extensive loss of natural forest. Between 2001 and 2016, the province lost 5% of forest cover to small-scale slash and burn agriculture and charcoal production. With limited access to alternative sources of income, Zambézia’s largely rural population is caught in a cycle of unsustainable forest use and land practices.
Protecting and restoring conservation value areas has been a big challenge - and this is a strong commitment of the Company - but communities still need to see its tangible value and understand the importance of ecosystem services and a land use plan.
The Navigator Company (formerly known as Portucel Soporcel Group) works, individually and with its partners, to improve effective approaches to raise awareness for better efficiency of land use. As part of this commitment, the Company produces in its nursery native plants to restore degraded areas and fruit trees to help food security and diversity. Considering these challenges and opportunities, Portucel Mozambique and its partners have the objective to work closely with communities to integrate land use plans in a more inclusive approach, managing and protecting conservation areas and planted forest, strengthen law enforcement, and develop better solutions to integrate different stakeholders in the same landscape with different needs but having the same purposes: ecologically sound, economic viable and socially just conditions.
For this objective the company and its partners will identify 4 communities with different conditions (conservation areas, degraded areas, planted forest, populations density, total community area, others) and establish and teach the Natural Resources Management Committees for each community alongside community members.The Committee will be responsible for executing a land use plan for their community, identifying the different land uses (and its areas) as well as activities to protect the natural values and restore the most ecologically important areas.
This model is sustained by performance indicators (for each committee) to understand if the goals are being achieved by the partners and project implementers. Depending on how these indicators are being accomplished, the project partners are better positioned to increase the scale to support socioeconomic benefits into local communities, taking advantage of what the Navigator Company is already developing in these landscapes with a large investment in social development program (with smart agriculture techniques; beehives; goats; chicken vaccination; solar lamps; fruit trees; improved cook stoves; bore holes; and more than 350.000 kg of improved seeds) directly impacting the community development.