Sept 15th - Washington DC, US – The International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), today announced in the US Capitol Senate Visitor Room that it has given its Conservation Merit Award to His Excellency, President Filipe Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique.John Gantt, CEO of the ICCF, stated: “President Nyusi earned this award for promoting a new definition of national park in his country: ‘the national park as a human development engine’ Gantt continued: “It is no secret that Mozambique’s wildlife suffer from illegal hunting. Yet, President Nyusi has committed his country to better protection of its thirteen National Parks and Reserves while simultaneously fostering a new approach to rural development: utilizing Mozambique’s Parks and Reserves as engines of education, economic development, and service delivery to the traditional communities that share ecosystems with these natural treasures. In the past, some people felt that conservation of nature and human development were competing objectives. Now, visionary leaders such as President Nyusi recognize that sustainable economic growth is inextricably linked to healthy environments—that human and natural economies are interdependent. “
In his remarks, President Nyusi thanked the ICCF for the Award and praised the work of Gorongosa National Park - the flagship of Mozambique’s protected area system - and applauded the benefits that the Park provides to the local communities. Gorongosa is co-managed by the Government of Mozambique and the US non-profit Carr Foundation. President Nyusi explained that Gorongosa is a model of the new-style national park-- one that protects biodiversity while it helps neighboring human communities. The co-management contract for Gorongosa includes the 1 million acre national park but also a 1.5 million-acre “Human Development Zone” adjacent to the Park where 175,000 people live.
Over the past 10 years--within the Park--wildlife numbers have increased from 10,000 to over 71,000. The Park has created tourism employment and established the EO Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory that advances ecological knowledge and trains young Mozambicans to be scientists.
Meanwhile, in the Human Development Zone, Gorongosa Park has established health, education and sustainable agriculture programs. In the past year, 114,000 people received health care services from the Park. More than four thousand families take part in an agricultural program that lifts household income. At the event in the US Capitol, Greg Carr, a member of the Park Oversight Committee, expressed his satisfaction for the recent approval by the Government of Mozambique of a 25-year extension of the public-private management contract of Gorongosa and announced the launch by Gorongosa of a new girls’ education program in the 93 primary schools that are neighbors of the Park. In after-school “Girls’ Clubs” (funded by the Park), teenage girls focus on their reading, study natural science (go on field trips to Gorongosa Park), participate in fun activities, learn about personal safety, health, nutrition and family planning. The girls hear about successful women through books, films and stories and they meet role models. The aim of the Girl’s Clubs is to help girls graduate high school, to provide career training, and to decrease the high prevalence of child marriage and child pregnancy in these rural areas. Carr explained that the Park created this program with the support of the Mozambican Ministry of Education and with the inspiration and insights of similar programs being launched around the world, including the US Government’s “Let Girls Learn” initiative, recently promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Several members of the Government of Mozambique participated in the ceremony, including the Foreign Minister, Oldemiro Baloi; Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia; and the Minister of Industry and Trade, Max Tonela. The Mozambican Ambassador to the US, Carlos dos Santos and the First Lady, Isaura Nyusi, also attended.
Senators Jeff Flake (R) Arizona, and Chris Coons (D) Delaware –who have both been to Gorongosa Park to evaluate US Government support of this Mozambican / American partnership – spoke at the dinner, which was attended by US Ambassador to Mozambique Dean Pittman and many members of Congress. The US Government, through USAID, has provided broad support to the Carr Foundation since the beginning of its involvement in Mozambique. Representatives of the following organizations also attended: UNDP, World Bank, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, that supports science education for young Mozambicans; the National Geographic Society, that supports wildlife conservation in Gorongosa Park; and the Global Environment Facility, that has assisted reforestation on Mt. Gorongosa.