CoastSnap Mozambique project is launched! A citizen-science coastal monitoring initiative (Part3)
In the final days of our hectic trip around Mozambique, the teams from UEM and BU flew from Maputo to Inhambane on the 3rd of August. Luciana and I, with our cameras ready to take the best shots of the Mozambique coast from the air, were amazed by the landscape beneath us. The coastal formation of the Macaneta spit in Maputo, coastal dune ridges, river meanders and disconnected meanders were like scenes from another planet. The lakes near Vilankulos and the coast from Vilankulos to Inhambane, the Bazaruto Archipelagos National Park introduced me to shades of blue I had never seen before. The Bay of Inhambane was no less fascinating, with the mixture of blue sea and white corallines sand dunes, and the coastal mangroves in the rivermouths were breath-taking!
View from the flight to Inhambane with coastal dunes and lakes in Vilankulos
View of Inhambane Bay and mangrove forest
In a taxi on our way to our last study area, Praia do Tofo, a landscape covered with palm trees revealed that I was in Inhambane. My Co-I, Pedrito from Ilha, had advised me previously “you are going to like Tofo, with its palm trees!”, but not only the vegetation was different to that seen on my journey around Nampula, with its cashew, banana and baobab trees, or the scrub vegetation around Maputo, the houses were built with the different materials and vegetation available at each location. This was interesting for me, not only from a handcraft perspective and the use of local-natural materials, but also because of my ongoing research (within the Rising from the Depths project) creating a social vulnerability index for the region, where I consider the vulnerability of constructions to the effects of natural coastal hazards.
In Praia do Tofo, from our beachside accommodation, we noticed a big spray coming from the sea. To my surprise and delight, it quickly became apparent that this was coming from a passing whale, on its migration from the north of Mozambique to South Africa. But it wasn’t alone, we had a constant view of spray and tale splashes, leaving me fascinated and Luciana and I glued to the binoculars. I guess I am not the only one in love with the area, as new developers, often not local, are creating resorts along the giant dunes, to meet the increasing demand from tourism.
After the final meeting with the Inhambane municipality administrators, to ensure they were content with the installation of the CoastSnap station in Tofo beach, we installed the station and carried out the beach survey on 6th August. The last workshop took place in the Escola Superior de Hotelaria e Turismo de Inhambane (ESHTI-UEM) organised by Dr Ernesto Macaringue, Lecturer at ESHTI-UEM, and Dr Jaime Palalane. The well-attended workshop comprised mainly of fishers’ association members, local NGOs, university students, teachers, and culture and tourism department representatives. The workshop highlighted the importance of beach monitoring and the potential for students at ESHTI and from local schools to work within the project. Some interesting ideas were raised in terms of how the project can be disseminated, such as mapping the stations, producing flyers for the tourism office and market, an exhibition of images in schools and museums and the use of images to analyse the human impacts to the beach, as well as documenting the different uses and users of the beach, and its carrying capacity.
Participants of the workshop in Inhambane-Tofo beach.
Dr Ernesto Macaringue taking the first photo “snap” from the CoastSnap station in Tofo beach (#coastsnaptofo)
My time in Mozambique provided a fantastic experience to better understand the importance of protecting a unique coastal heritage, intrinsically connected with the lives of the people who live there. I was able to gain an insight into the major changes taking place (e.g. occupation and development of coastal areas), which makes me think about the issues faced by overdeveloped coasts in other parts of the world (e.g. the Mediterranean region I know so well). Appreciating the local socio-economic needs and the fantastic natural attractions, visiting Mozambique enhanced my interest in research that can contribute to more sustainable coastal development, where livelihoods and future generations are not compromised. CoastSnap Mozambique is helping to provide to a better understanding of the natural-physical capacity of beaches to protect against coastal hazards, their social and cultural relevance and the importance of the collection of data for best practice and management of this sensitive and changeable coastal fringe.
The next steps on the project are the analysis of the photos received and the continued dissemination of the results. After meeting with school teachers during the workshops, school projects will soon be developed, where students will work on different activities to integrate the CoastSnap project within their curricula.
Participate in the project! If you are travelling to any of the three CoastSnap Mozambique sites: Ilha de Moçambique, Ponta do Ouro (Maputo) and Tofo beach (Inhambane), find the CoastSnap stand, take a picture from there and share it using hashtag #coastsnapilha, #coastsnapponta and/or #coastsnaptofo. Find out more in our Facebook page (@CoastSnapMoz), the Rising from the Depths website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org