The African Parks Network (APN) is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. APN manages 17 national parks and protected areas in 11 countries covering over 13 million hectares: Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In 2017, the Oppenheimer Generations Foundation partnered with the APN to support the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP) in Mozambique. This park became the 13th park, and first marine reserve, to fall under the management of APN, in partnership with the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC). Bazaruto Archipelago encompasses an extraordinary collection of terrestrial and marine habitats of unique ecological value along Mozambique’s coastline. Spanning 143,000 hectares of productive seascape and five islands, this critical sanctuary was first declared a protected area in 1971.
The BANP comprises the important habitats of coastal dunes, mangrove forests, rocky and white sandy shores, coral reefs and seagrass meadows. These important habitats are a critical refuge for an abundance of fish, birds, reptiles and terrestrial mammals. They also harbour numerous species of marine megafauna, including dolphins, whale sharks, whales, manta rays, sea turtles, sharks, and the Western Indian Ocean’s last viable population of dugongs, the only strictly marine herbivorous mammal now listed as vulnerable to extinction.
Supporting the marine reserve is important to the Foundation, it presents an opportunity for conservation and research efforts and the opportunity to support a sustainable model that brings tourism to the park in a way that minimises any negative impacts. The BANP also includes community engagement activities such as the development of community water systems, the distribution of seeds and the provision of permaculture training to improve agricultural practices, enhance nutrition and increase income. The link between the tourism and the community also has created employment opportunities for those who live in and around the park.