After emerging from 16 years of brutal civil war, Mozambique stands at a crossroads between conservation and development—although when done properly, both are possible. While one of the world's poorest countries, Mozambique has tremendous potential for eco-tourism with its beautiful beaches, safari life, and Lake Malawi diving opportunities. Foreign investors are financing the construction of a number of hotels.
||Mozambique Forest Figures
Total forest area: 19,262,000 ha
% of land area: 24.6%
Primary forest cover: n/a
% of land area: n/a
% total forest area: n/a
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -50,000 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.3%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 2.6%
Total forest loss since 1990: -750,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-3.7%
Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:n/a
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 80.2%
None or unknown: n/a
Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 19,262,000 ha
Modified natural: 19,224,000 ha
Production plantation: 38,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a
Plantations, 2005: 38,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 0.2%
Annual change rate (00-05): n/a
Above-ground biomass: 978 M t
Below-ground biomass: 235 M t
Area annually affected by
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: n/a
Critically endangered: 4
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 1,732,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 20,297,000 m3 o.b.
Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: n/a
Wood fuel: n/a
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: n/a
More forest statistics for Mozambique
While forest covers nearly a quarter of the country, Mozambique has little tropical forest coverage. Nevertheless, deforestation rates are quite low—only 3.7 percent of the country's forest cover was lost between 1990 and 2005—and have not increased significantly in the past five years. As of 2003, 5.7 percent of the country was under some form of protection, although poaching is a problem in some areas. Mozambique's large protected area is Limpopo National Park, which is part of the larger Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, consisting of Limpopo, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.
In the early to mid-2000s, an American internet executive committed more than $30 million to rebuilding Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique as an ecotourism destination. Greg Carr, former chairman of Prodigy Internet and Boston Technology, planned to reintroduce animals from elsewhere in Africa
Mozambique has 685 species of birds, 195 mammals, 228 reptiles, 59 amphibians, and nearly 5,700 species of plants.
In 2005, Mozambique launched a "Small Grants Programme" with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This provides grants of up to US$50,000 and other support to community-based groups and non-governmental organizations for activities that address land degradation, biodiversity, and climate-change issues at the local level.
Recent articles | Mozambique news updates | XML
Rhinos now extinct in Mozambique's Limpopo National Park
(04/25/2013) Poachers have likely killed off the last rhinos in Mozambique's Limpopo National Park, according to a park official.
Forgotten lions: shedding light on the fate of lions in unprotected areas
(03/18/2013) African lions (Panthera leo) living outside of protected areas like national parks or reserves also happen to be studied much less than those residing within protected areas, to the detriment of lion conservation initiatives. In response to this trend, a group of researchers surveyed an understudied, unprotected region in northwestern Mozambique called the Tete Province, whose geography and proximity to two national parks suggests a presence of lions.
Report: nearly half the timber from Mozambique to China is illegal
(02/07/2013) Forty-eight percent of the timber making its way from Mozambique's forests to Chinese companies was harvested illegally, according to a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which blames the problem on widespread corruption and poor governance. The illegal logging cost Mozambique, the world's fourth least-developed country in the world according to the UN, $29 million in tax revenue, says the report.
'Exporting deforestation': China is the kingpin of illegal logging
(11/29/2012) Runaway economic growth comes with costs: in the case of China's economic engine, one of them has been the world's forests. According to a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), China has become the number one importer of illegal wood products from around the world. Illegal logging—which threatens biodiversity, emits carbon, impoverishes local communities, and is often coupled with other crimes—has come under heavy pressure in recent years from the U.S., the EU, and Australia. Each of these has implemented, or will soon implement, new laws that make importing and selling illegal wood products domestic crimes. However, China's unwillingness to tackle its vast appetite for illegal timber means the trade continues to decimate forests worldwide.
Photos: Mozambique creates Africa's biggest marine protected area
(11/13/2012) Last week, the East African nation of Mozambique announced it was protecting 10,411 square kilometers (4,020 square miles) of coastal marine waters, making the new Marine Protected Area (MPA) the biggest on the continent. The protected area, dubbed the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago ("First" and "Second" islands), includes ten islands as well as mangrove forests, rich coral reefs, and seagrass ecosystems.
Ten African nations pledge to transform their economies to take nature into account
(06/11/2012) Last month ten African nations, led by Botswana, pledged to incorporate "natural capital" into their economies. Natural capital, which seeks to measure the economic worth of the services provided by ecosystems and biodiversity—for example pollination, clean water, and carbon—is a nascent, but growing, method to curtail environmental damage and ensure more sustainable development. Dubbed the Gaborone Declaration, the pledge was signed by Botswana, Liberia, Namibia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania following a two day summit.
Fertilizer trees boost yields in Africa
(10/16/2011) Fertilizer trees—which fix nitrogen in the soil—have improved crops yields in five African countries, according to a new study in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. In some cases yields have doubled with the simple addition of nitrogen-soaking trees. The research found that fertilizer trees could play a role in alleviating hunger on the continent while improving environmental conditions.
From Cambodia to California: the world's top 10 most threatened forests
(02/02/2011) Growing populations, expanding agriculture, commodities such as palm oil and paper, logging, urban sprawl, mining, and other human impacts have pushed many of the world's great forests to the brink. Yet scientists, environmentalists, and even some policymakers increasingly warn that forests are worth more standing than felled. They argue that by safeguarding vulnerable biodiversity, sequestering carbon, controlling erosion, and providing fresh water, forests provide services to humanity, not to mention the unquantifiable importance of having wild places in an increasingly human-modified world. Still, the decline of the world's forests continues: the FAO estimating that around 10 million hectares of tropical forest are lost every year. Of course, some of these forests are more imperiled than others, and a new analysis by Conservation International (CI) has catalogued the world's 10 most threatened forests.
'Land grab' fears in Africa legitimate
(01/31/2011) A new report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has found that recent large-scale land deals in Africa are likely to provide scant benefit to some of the world's poorest and most famine-prone nations and will probably create new social and environmental problems. Analyzing 12 recent land leasing contracts investigators found a number of concerns, including contracts that are only a few pages long, exclusion of local people, and in one case actually giving land away for free. Many of the contracts last for 100 years, threatening to separate local communities from the land they live on indefinitely. "Most contracts for large-scale land deals in Africa are negotiated in secret," explains report author Lorenzo Cotula in a press release. "Only rarely do local landholders have a say in those negotiations and few contracts are publicly available after they have been signed."
Solar powered conservation
(08/25/2009) Electricity can be a difficult commodity to procure in the remote areas where conservationists often work. Typically field researchers and wildlife rangers rely on gas-powered generators, which require imported fuel, often produce noxious fumes and disruptive noise, and can be costly to maintain. A better option, especially in sun-drenched parts of the world, is solar. Clean and silent, with no need for supplemental fuel, solar seems like an ideal fit for conservation work except for one major drawback: cost. But Stephen Gold – Solar and Technology Manager for Wildlife Conservation Network has been working to overcome that obstacle.
Rainforest discovered via Google Earth to be protected
(06/29/2009) Mozambique has agreed to protect a tract of highland forest discovered by scientists using Google Earth, reports The Guardian.
Indigenous people, forest communities in Africa control less than 2% of forest land
(05/28/2009) Less than 2 percent of Africa’s tropical forests are under community control, hindering efforts to slow deforestation and alleviate rural poverty, reports a new assessment from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a global coalition of non-governmental and community organizations.
Photos: Google Earth used to find new species
(12/22/2008) Scientists have used Google Earth to find a previously unknown trove of biological diversity in Mozambique, reports the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Scouring satellite images via Google Earth for potential conservation sites at elevations of 1600 meters or more, Julian Bayliss a locally-based conservationist, in 2005 spotted a 7,000-hectare tract of forest on Mount Mabu. The scientifically unexplored forest had previously only been known to villagers. Subsequent expeditions in October and November this year turned up hundreds of species of plants and animals, including some that are new to science.
Mozambique Gets World Bank conservation, Tourism Project
(12/05/2005) More of Mozambique's natural ecosystems will be conserved, and thus draw more tourism to the country, thanks to a World Bank-funded project that aims to promote economic growth through sustainable use of natural resources.
10 million people will need humanitarian assistance in Southern Africa
(09/23/2005) As many as 10 million people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been assessed as food insecure and will need humanitarian assistance until the next harvest according to a food security brief from USAID.
Suggested reading - Books
Unless otherwise specified, this article was written by Rhett A. Butler [Bibliographic citation for this page]
Contact me if you have suggestions on other rainforest-related environmental sites and resources for this country.
Image copyright Google Earth, MDA EarthSet, DigitalGlobe 2005
CIA-World Factbook Profile
World Resources Institute
Last updated: 4 Feb 2006