Lake Niassa, in Mozambique may be named as Wetland of International Importance

4 February 2010

Maputo, Mozambique, 4 Feb – Lake Niassa may be named this year as a Wetland of International Importance, within the framework of the Ramsar Convention, making it the second area of its kind in Mozambique, after the Marromeu complex, in Sofala, Mozambican newspaper Notícias reported.

The international treaty, which was set up in February 1971, now has 150 signatory countries and outlines the basis for the conservation and correct use of wetlands, based on inter-sector coordination and cooperation between countries.

The aim of having Lake Niassa become a wetland of international importance was announced during the World Environmental Summit held between 16 August and 4 September, 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, since when the Mozambican government has been working with various partners with a view to meeting the guidelines established in the treaty.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature, one of the organisations involved in the process, has said it considers conditions to have been established for the declaration to be made official, and is now awaiting a green light from the government.

At the same time, also at Lake Niassa, a process is underway to declare it a partial reserve, which is also awaiting the go-ahead from central government, as the provincial government has already given its authorisation.

According to Brit Zolho, from the WWF, the Wetland declaration is particularly important because of the visibility it gives to sectors such as tourism. As well as this, wetlands are also useful due to the role they have in the reproduction and growth of aquatic species.

“Mozambique is rich in wetlands that are also an important source of water in periods of drought,” Zolho said.

According to the WWF the main challenge is to promote better regional coordination to ensure effective control of the flow of the Zambezi river, the stabilisation of which, according to Zolho, cannot be exclusively the responsibility of the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric Dam as there are to further points where flow is stopped, one in Zambia and one in Zimbabwe. (macauhub)