Mozambique’s Council for Ministers recently issued a decree to formally merge the spectacular terrestrial and marine ecosystems of Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve. The new conservation area is named Maputo National Park.

The proclamation of the 1 700km2 park follows two decades of intensive development and restoration activities led by the country’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation.  In 2018, ANAC and Peace Parks entered into a new 15-year partnership agreement with the emphasis on jointly developing the two reserves to achieve self-sustainability through a unified management plan – a mission that was the driving force behind the application for and eventual proclamation of the new national park.

The decree increases the legal protection of this conservation space and elevates its status to Category II under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) classification of protected areas.  According to this status, National Parks are defined as natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities. Protected areas within this category does not allow commercialisation of land and water, and will not generally have any resource use permitted except for subsistence or minor recreational purposes. In addition to protecting larger-scale ecological processes , a major role of national parks in the landscape, however, is to provide ecosystem services as well as support compatible economic development, mostly through recreation and tourism, that can contribute to local and national economies and in particular to local communities. 

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