Photo: Bruce Buttery
Gorongosa Park Warden Pedro Muagura received the Dr. Kenton Miller Award today for taking bold steps to help preserve protected areas and natural treasures like Gorongosa National Park.
According to the news release, Mr. Muagura represents “a beacon of hope in regions which have had a turbulent history, affecting both humans and nature in profound ways over the past decades.”
Mr. Muagura’s efforts to address the loss of rainforest in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique—following the devastating impacts of civil war on biodiversity—and improve the livelihoods of local farmers —are pioneering in their approach and impact. Faced with the dilemma of ongoing deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and the struggle for subsistence by local farmers following the 15-year-long civil war in Mozambique, Mr Muagura came up with the idea of growing coffee on deforested mountainsides. He proposed the coffee could be shade-grown, beneath replanted native trees, giving local people an income while also restoring the forest.
Faced with initial scepticism, Muagura prevailed with his idea, even though no-one had any experience of growing coffee in the Gorongosa area, or anywhere in Mozambique. He worked closely with the local community to understand their needs and demonstrate the benefits of restoration would outweigh the short-term gains of slash and burn agriculture. He also had to understand and engage with gender roles, ensuring women were empowered to contribute to the nurseries of seedlings and newly planted trees.
Today, Mount Gorongosa’s people are planting around 200,000 coffee trees and 50,000 rainforest trees per year. Women make up 50% of the small-holder farmers, now numbering over 600 people. The produce is bought by a natural-products enterprise that processes the coffee at a new factory nearby. The coffee beans are roasted in Mozambique and around the world.
Mr. Muagura’s efforts have fostered sustainable land use, community development, and biodiversity conservation in the region. Thanks to his efforts, Gorongosa National Park is an example of resilience, innovation, and sustainability – serving as a model for conservationists worldwide.
Named after Dr. Kenton R. Miller, Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature from 1983 to 1988 and three-time Chair of the WCPA, the award was set up in tribute to his legacy of innovation and learning in planning and managing protected and conserved areas worldwide, and mentoring leaders in the field of conservation. The Dr. Kenton Miller award is co-sponsored by the World Commission for Protected Areas.