LOOKING AT WHOLE ECOSYSTEMS TO ENSURE THE FUTURE OF SAL
For many years, wildlife conservation had focused on the protection of endangered single species. However, the acceleration of Climate Change and its consequences have turned the focus to the protection of important ecosystems that, at the same time, represent the main habitat for most threatened species. In addition to that, the protection and restoration of key habitats, such as rainforests or coastal ecosystems, are also powerful tools to mitigate the negative impacts of global warming. On the other hand, healthy ecosystems provide direct benefits to the communities living nearby through the sustainable exploitation of its resources.
Although Project Biodiversity started in 2015 with the direct protection of sea turtles, we are now implementing several projects that focus on the protection and recovery of coastal habitats. These projects count with the support and involvement of the public and private sectors, and also aim to push for sustainable tourism in Sal Island. Like many coastal countries, the fisheries sector is an essential part of Cabo Verde's social and economic landscape, playing important roles in strengthening food security, job creation, and poverty reduction. Over the last decade, declining stock and increasingly unpredictable seasonality have left the sector extremely vulnerable to exploitation.
Establishing Cooperative Management of Costa Fragata Marine Protected Area to Conserve Sal's Key Biodiversity Area
Funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and with the direct support of the Delegation of the Ministry of Environment in Sal, this three-year effort aims to transform the way Sal’s protected areas are recognized and managed by engaging a wide variety of public stakeholders through the various stages of the project’s development.
This engagement includes comprehensive training workshops for local authorities, as well as ongoing outreach and sensitisation with all major stakeholders around the overall goals, and the development of new protocols regarding the designated protected area.
An area spanning nearly 5 km of coast, Costa de Fragata Natural Reserve is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including several endemic species, and serves as the primary nesting beach for the island’s endangered Loggerhead sea turtle population. For this reason, the reserve is classified as a Key Biodiversity Area, nomination recognised internationally. The sea bottom, rich in coral and fish represents a key feeding area for juvenile green and hawksbill turtles, as well as an important breeding ground for lemon, nurse and endangered hammerhead sharks.
The area itself has invaluable socio-economic importance, not only because receive thousands of visitors doing different activities but because its frontline dunes are a natural barrier against rising sea level and tropical storms.
Nature Reserve of Costa Fragata
Over the last ten years, unregulated activities within the protected area boundaries have put the ecosystem at risk. While countless tour operators, tourists, and other stakeholders occupy space in this area at various times, many have yet to take an active role in efforts to protect the resources within those boundaries.
Project Biodiversity is changing that with a participative and diverse approach:
Implementation of the
Improvement of the area with the delimitation of paths and signalling of the MPA. Increase of the knowledge of the area through active monitoring of the biodiversity and the dunes ecosystem.
Participative and Voluntary
Creation of committees with the different stakeholders and elaboration of a Code of Conduct for the different activities, signed by tour operators, excursion providers and tour guides.
Supporting MPA authorities
Coordination of the different enforcement authorities with new monitoring programmes on land and on the sea. Facilitation of information regarding the MPA to visitors and businesses.
Capacity Building of MPA and NGO staff
Training of Project Biodiversity technicians and MPA guards on wildlife monitoring and MPA legislation. Improvement of the NGO organisation skills and introduction of new monitoring technics.