Tanzania’s coral reefs are under threat from dynamite fishing and overexploitation, while coastal forests are disappearing in the wake of rising charcoal production and coastal development. Marine Protected Areas play a crucial role in conversing biodiversity and replenishing coral and fish stock. They can also generate income for their own sustainable management through ecotourism.
In response to this situation, CHICOP’s overall aim is to create a model of sustainable nature conservation – one in which ecotourism supports park management, research and Environmental Education Programmes for local school children. While the Park’s objectives are non-commercial, its operations follow commercial principles.
Since 1991, CHICOP has turned the formerly uninhabited Chumbe Island into a fully-managed, internationally recognised nature reserve that:
– Includes a marine park, forest reserve, visitors’ centre and eco lodge; and
– Provides sanctuary to critically endangered species, such as Aders’ duikers, coconut crabs and Roseate terns.
All this was achieved in partnership with local communities, through:
– Village meetings before and during project development;
– Employing and training former fishermen as Park Rangers, underscored by a preference for recruiting local people;
– Basing all operations on detailed Management Plans spanning 1995-2027;
– Creating a Park Advisory Committee with Government, university and village representatives;
– Offering marine rescue services to local fishermen/women in distress; and
– Developing Environmental Education Programmes for fishermen, school children and all visitors.