Maputo, Mozambique, Feb. 14, 2024 -- The Wildlife Conservation Society was honored to be invited to participate in a high-level event today hosted by His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, the President of the Republic of Mozambique, at Maputo National Park.

The WCS team, which included John Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs; Emma Stokes, Vice President of Global Field Conservation; Luthando Dziba, WCS Regional Director East Africa; and Afonso Madope, WCS Mozambique Country Director, had the opportunity to discuss the robust collaboration between WCS and the Government of Mozambique, most recently in the Miombo Forest Initiative in partnership with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) and Rainforest Trust.

The Miombo Forest Initiative, launched in 2022, aims to strengthen the conservation and management of Miombo woodlands across Southern Africa —an extensive ecosystem spanning approximately 1.9 million km2 across seven countries. In the past 15 years, Miombo forests have faced significant declines from 2.7 million km2 to 1.9 million km2 due to unsustainable management and usage. The Initiative aims to ensure that miombo woodlands continue to contribute to local and global climate change efforts and biodiversity conservation, as well as to the local and national economies and sustainable development of the Miombo countries and beyond. This includes conserving critical areas within the Miombo Woodlands, such as Niassa Special Reserve.

Said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, who was a part of the WCS delegation meeting with by His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi: “WCS is honored to be a partner of the Miombo Forest Initiative with Mozambique, ICCF and the Rainforest Trust. This initiative will help ensure that Miombo, which is important to the livelihoods of local communities and to wildlife, is conserved and restored long into the future.”

Said Stokes: "Niassa Special Reserve is one of the world’s most important ecosystems—profoundly significant for its biodiversity and cultural value. Niassa is a unique Reserve where thousands of people depend on it being managed and conserved because it supports their livelihoods—from the food it produces to the jobs it creates. It is our privilege to work with the Government of Mozambique to help conserve this profoundly important Nature’s Stronghold, a vision they established over 60 years ago.”

Spanning 43,000 km2, representing 31% of Mozambique's protected areas, Niassa is the largest protected area in Mozambique. More than 60,000 local community members who live in and adjacent to Niassa depend on its miombo woodland resources for their livelihoods. These woodlands provide essential ecosystem services, including watershed protection, climate regulation, and daily access to timber, fuelwood, charcoal, and honey-gathering opportunities. In 2020, WCS signed a 20-year co-management agreement in partnership with the Administração Nacional das Áreas de Conservação (ANAC) to support the conservation of this globally important ecosystem. 

The Miombo Forest Initiative is supported by partners which include WCS, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF Group), and Rainforest Trust.