By Joao Moura, Natural Resource Management Specialist (Consultant), World Bank
“What advice would you give to the Chinese Government when asked how to go about restoring and managing a highly degraded area as large as the Loess Plateau?” This was the first assignment given to groups participating in the training “Towards Resilient Landscapes” in Nampula, Mozambique, from February 8-10, 2017. At this point in the training, participants had only watched two videos. The first showcased the Loess Plateau in the 1990s, and the mutually reinforcing link between poverty and resource degradation; the second showcased the same area 20 years later, providing participants with a glimpse of what good landscape management can achieve, reconciling rural development and sustainable natural resources management objectives. Despite these visual aids, providing any meaningful and structured advice naturally seemed a daunting task for everyone in the room. “There is so much to do, where should we even begin?”, one participant blurted. “Well, you tell me, you are the one giving advice to the Chinese Government after all”, the facilitator replied with a smile.
The training – organized jointly by the World Bank and Mozambique’s National Sustainable Development Fund (FNDS) with support from the TerrAfrica Program – brought to Nampula about 60 participants from Maputo, Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado provinces in Mozambique, as well as from Zambia and the United States. Stakeholder backgrounds were also diverse: participants included Central, Provincial and District-level Government officials from Mozambique, as well as researchers, civil society representatives, conservation area managers, forest operators, and small and large-scale farmers, among others. Despite this diversity, they all had at least one thing in common: their stake in the management of a “landscape”- a system consisting of a mosaic of natural and/or human-modified ecosystems.
Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado are landscapes where the Government of Mozambique is implementing, with support from the World Bank, integrated management programs focused on the promotion of sustainable rural development. These programs are in line with the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development’s (MITADER) broader National Sustainable Development Program.
The training was aimed at providing participants with a good understanding of landscape management concepts, as well as their practical applications, and freely available supporting tools. In three days, participants we able to explore and learn from real landscape management cases in countries such as China, Zambia and Brazil. They also learned how to use the essential features of free tools like Google Earth, Global Forest Watch, Rainbow Diagrams, the Climate Change Knowledge Portal and EX-ACT to conduct basic spatial, stakeholder and environmental analysis to feed into their project design and implementation.
Achieving consensus and managing trade-offs was a key theme across the training sessions. After a series of presentations delivered by the participants on their prioritization scheme of areas for restoration in a fictional landscape offered by the facilitators, participants were asked about how they finally achieved consensus. One Mozambican participant replied: “Well, at first it was hard, given that everyone in the group seemed to have different priorities and objectives. However, as we talked through our objectives, we realized that priorities were not as divergent as we thought they were in the beginning, and that many of them actually overlapped in space. In certain cases, we even managed to kill two birds with one stone. Of course, this was not always the case, and compromises had to be made by all sides”.
* Participants identifying priority restoration areas in a fictional landscape
By the third day, roles between facilitators and participants had been reversed: the cases, diagnostics and proposals were provided by participants in regards to specific districts of Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado. The facilitator at one point asked: “So, where should you begin?” One participant was now quick to answer: “As I learned from the China and Zambia cases, filling bellies comes first: if our people are not food secure, how can we expect them to work towards sustainable natural resources management?” Visions and strategies for their landscapes had begun to emerge, and participants were now equipped with tools to concretize them.
The “Mozambique Landscape Management Network” was also strengthened by the training. As we observed, the most important lessons the participants extracted from the training resulted from discussions they had with one another, with each able to share relatable experiences in developing similar programs in their own home provinces. As we concluded the training with a field visit to the District of Rapale, we saw Mozambican landscapes in a new light, and held lively discussions on how to improve Rapale’s Land Use Plan design and implementation with the District Administration.
Mozambique’s integrated landscape management programs in Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado are mainly financed through the Agriculture and Natural Resources Landscape Management Project, the Mozambique Forest Investment Project, the Conservation Areas for Biodiversity and Development (MozBio), and the REDD+ Readiness Support Project.
* Landscape in Mozambique