Niassa Province is almost 130,000 km2 and has an estimated human population of just over one million. Administratively, the province is divided into 16 Districts with most settlement and cultivation taking place in the south-west, adjacent to Lake Niassa. The capital is Lichinga, located in the south-west. The province is one of the least developed in Mozambique and suffered greatly from hostilities during the civil war which ended in 1992.
A considerable part of the rural population lives at a subsistence level, with income supplementation from tobacco and charcoal production. Although generally viewed by both Government and outside developers as a potential agrarian region, there has been little successful implementation of agricultural projects and evidence of several failed attempts. Over the last decade, a number of land use permits (DUAT’s) have been awarded for forestry plantation in the vicinity of Lichinga and many of these have been developed.
A significant part of the province (29%) is the state protected Niassa Reserve. There are also several other areas in the province that have been established with conservation goals. These include the Chipanje Chetu Community Concession Area (used mainly for hunting safaris), the Manda Wilderness, the Mt Mosale hunting area and the Lake Niassa Reserve.
Settlement and agriculture is permitted in all of these areas.
Partially due its history, the north of Niassa province is fortunate in still having extensive areas of unsettled, well wooded and watered land. Remnant wildlife is found throughout these areas and these intact ecosystems represent significant capital in conservation terms.
The Regional Conservation context
The Niassa Reserve, at 42,000 square kilometres, is the largest protected area in Mozambique, one of the largest reserves in Africa and one of the largest Miombo Woodland preserves in the world.
The reserve holds key populations of wild dog, sable, buffalo, lion and elephant. It also contains endemic flora and fauna, including\ the Niassaland Wildebeest, Bohm’s Zebra and Johnston’s Impala. The Reserve is currently managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, in cooperation with the Government of Mozambique.