Project Biodiversity launches new programme to transform the management of Sal Island’s Costa Fragat

This month marks the official public launch of Project Biodiversity’s newest programme - cooperative management of Costa de Fragata natural reserve, the island’s only internationally recognized hotspot for biodiversity. A first of its kind on Sal, this project will support a growing critical need for action and participatory decision-making regarding protected area management by engaging stakeholders at every level and in every sector to actively protect area ecosystems and the resources within.

Funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and with the direct support of the Protected Areas 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.

"At its core, this project is about addressing important environmental needs through the process of community engagement, said Berta Renom, Director of Project Biodiversity. By uniting diverse sectors around a common cause, we can ensure that the wildlife and the habitats in the reserve can thrive long-term."

This engagement will include comprehensive training workshops for local authorities, as well as ongoing outreach and sensitisation with all major stakeholders around overall goals, and development of new protocols regarding the designated protected area.

An area spanning nearly 5 km, Costa de Fragata Natural Reserve is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, and serves as the primary nesting beach for the island’s endangered Loggerhead sea turtle population. 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. A main goal of the project is to assess the biodiversity of the area to better understand the scope of species diversity in the designated reserve.

Over the last ten years, unregulated coastal development within the protected area boundaries have put the ecosystem at risk. This program aims to change that.

In addition to ongoing community engagement efforts, this new programme will provide support and capacity-building for local fishers, guides, and others impacted by new management policies, including the implementation of Guardians of the Sea, an initiative spearheaded in Maio by Maio Biodiversity Foundation and that will be adapted to Sal, which leverages local knowledge of fishers to support monitoring efforts of the coastal marine waters within the marine protected areas.

In conjunction with the Protected Areas of Sal, Project Biodiversity has already begun the first phase of the project, which aims to socialize the new plan with local and national stakeholders, The second phase, which will focus on raising awareness about the new parameters for the area, is expected to begin in early 2020.

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