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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Private sector investment in marine conservation / Chumbe Island-Tanzania

Posted By: Sibylle Riedmiller
Date: Monday, 6 March 2000, at 3:29 p.m.

Key words: coral reefs, ecotourism, marine parks

DESCRIPTION: Chumbe Island is situated 8 miles southwest of Zanzibar Town and covers an area of approximately 20 ha. It is an uninhabited island dominated by coral rag forest and bordered, on its western shore, by a fringing coral reef of exceptional biodiversity and beauty. Based on the initiative of Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd, a private company created for the management of Chumbe, the island was gazetted in 1994 as a protected area by the Government of Zanzibar.

This created the first marine park in Tanzania, and to our knowledge also the first and only private marine park in the world. The reserve includes a reef sanctuary and protected forest and has become a rare example of a still pristine coral island ecosystem in an otherwise heavily over-exploited area.

The objectives of the Chumbe Island Coral Park (CHICOP) project are non-commercial, while operations follow commercial principles. The overall aim of CHICOP is to create a model of sustainable conservation area management where ecotourism supports conservation and education. Profits from the tourism operations are to be re-invested in conservation area management and free island excursions for local schoolchildren.

About two thirds of the investment costs of approximately 1 million US$ were financed privately by the project initiator (a conservationist and former manager of donor-funded aid projects). Several project components, such as the construction of the visitors centre, biological baseline surveys, the Aders' duikers sanctuary, the park rangers patrol boats and nature trails received some funding from donors, e.g. GTZ-GATE, GTZ-EM, the German Tropical Forest Stamp Program, EC-Microprojects, the Netherlands Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the WWF-Tanzania, the International School Schloss Buchhof, Munich, among others. This covered about a third of the investment costs.

More than 30 volunteers from several countries provided, and continue to provide, crucial professional support for between one month to three years. Running costs are mostly covered from income generated through ecotourism. Seven two-bed eco-bungalows offer accommodation for up to 14 guests. In addition, day trips are offered for up to 12 visitors. Larger groups of schoolchildren are invited for day excursions during the low season.

Since the opening of the Chumbe Island Coral Park in mid 1998, occupancy rates have not yet exceeded a monthly average of about 40%. Marketing mainly through the Internet is expected to increase the occupancy rate.

The project employed and trained four former fishers from adjacent villages as park rangers, and stationed them on the island. They patrol the reef and the island's coral-rag forest habitat, keep daily monitoring records on any observations, assist researchers and guide foreign and local visitors over the marine and terrestrial nature trails.

Permitted uses of the marine park include recreation (swimming, snorkeling, underwater photography), education and research. Extractive and destructive activities, such as fishing, anchorage, collection of specimens (even for research) are not allowed. Research is co-ordinated with the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Dar es Salaam and regulated by the Chumbe Island Management Plan 1995-2005.

An historic lighthouse, built by the British in 1904, is kept functioning and is now used by the traditional dhows that have no modern means of navigation. A protected historic mosque on the island is left untouched and still used daily by the Chumbe staff on the island. This is one of the few mosques of Indian architecture in Zanzibar, built for the Indian lighthouse keepers by their community at the turn of the century. The former lighthouse keepers' house has been carefully restored and converted into a visitors centre that harbours the restaurant and exhibits of environmental information about the island reserve for all guests.

SUMMARY OF PROJECT ACTIVITIES, 1991-1999: Gazetting of the western reef and the island, since1991; Employment and training of park rangers in interaction with fishers, monitoring techniques and tourist guidance skills, since 1993; Baseline surveys and species lists on the island's flora and fauna were conducted since1993; Establishment of an Advisory Committee which meets annually with representatives of the Departments of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment, the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Dar es Salaam and village leaders of neighbouring fishing villages; Production of a Management Plan 1995-2005 in 1995 to guide project operations; Development of forest and marine nature trails since 1993 with informational material in English and Kiswahili; Eradication of rats (Rattus rattus) in 1997; Establishment of a sanctuary for the highly endangered Ader's duiker (Cephalopus adersi) since 1997; Rehabilitation of the ruined lighthouse keeper's house for park headquarters/visitors centre, 1997-98; Use of state-of-the-art eco-architecture (rainwater catchment, gray water recycling, compost toilets, photo voltaic power generation) for seven visitor bungalows and the visitors centre; Provision of free excursions to the island to local school-children during the off-season; Tourism operations (day excursions and overnight stay) started in 1997/1998.


LONG TERM BENEFIT: There are clear long-term benefits when the private sector establishes and manages small marine parks, as seen in resource protection, environmental awareness and economics. Over-fished and depleted reefs adjacent to and upstream of the marine park are being restocked, and local people and tourists are educated about related issues. Private management is considerably less costly and more efficient than government-controlled management bodies set up by over-funded donor projects.

CAPACITY BUILDING AND INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTHENING: In the Chumbe project local fishermen are being trained as park rangers, local school-children receive free environmental education, civil servants learn about marine conservation and related issues, tourists are offered environmental education also!

SUSTAINABILITY: The Chumbe project receives no donor or other support and depends entirely on income from ecotourism. This now fully covers the running costs, but would not suffice for capital repayment and profits under strictly commercial terms. As long as the country remains peaceful, tourism will continue to fund the project.

Visitor numbers are carefully controlled. Overnight capacity does not exceed around 5000/year for overnight visitors. No further construction of overnight facilities is planned. Day visitation to the park is also limited and regulated by the tides to avoid any damage to the coral reef by boats crossing over during low water.

TRANSFERABILITY: Well-managed marine parks and coral reefs CAN be very attractive for marine tourism and generate considerably more income than fisheries and other resource extraction. The challenge is HOW to achieve this under Third-world conditions. Private investment in conservation CAN be the answer, but needs: 1. conducive political, legal and institutional environment for foreign investment (corruption is the biggest problem); 2. long-term security of tenure!!! 3. conservation-minded investors, but they need 1 and 2 above! Where these conditions are given, the Chumbe case IS replicable, why not...

CONSENSUS BUILDING: Contrary to expectations, dealing with local fishermen was NOT such a big problem. Approached properly by fellow fishermen trained by the project, they can be made to understand, and after some time SEE the direct benefits of conserving a small area: better fish harvests in adjacent areas, and other sources of income (tourism). The biggest obstacles and problems mostly came from government (bureaucratic red tape, corruption, lack of political support for conservation in general etc.)!

PARTICIPATORY PROCESS: There is a limit to how far private investors can 'involve all local stakeholders', particularly where government and donor organisations are rarely doing this...! Generally it is easier for an investor to deal with local stakeholders (fishermen) who have an interest in one particular reef, and a POTENTIAL interest in sustainable resource use. After all: both the investor in marine tourism and the fishermen DEPEND on the health of the coral reef! The challenge comes when one has to deal with government institutions, donor projects and NGOs who have made conservation their 'income generating activity' through donor funds. They have little if any 'intrinsic' interest in conservation on the ground, as they do NOT depend on the health of the reef. Their incentives are rather to set up ever more bureaucratic structures and procedures and increase overheads to justify continued funding. This makes conservation unnecessarily costly and alienates local resource users, rather than involving them!

EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION PROCESS: The private sector is in a good position for this: the need to establish well functioning management on the ground, AND a successful business at the same time, provides for an extremely strong incentive for effective and efficient communication with all parties involved. In contrast, government- and donor-funded bureaucratic institutions don't really need to do this, and find it difficult to encourage effective and efficient communication. Why should they bother?

CULTURALLY RESPECTFUL: Training local fishermen to be park rangers and to communicate effectively with fellow fishers provides an enormous opportunity. In the Tanzanian national language Kiswahili, fishers and people in general refer to coral as 'stones and rocks', and treat them that way. Corals are not seen as something living, and also primary and secondary school syllabi do not provide any education on coral reefs. So there is a long way to go...!

GENDER AND SENSITIVITY ISSUES: In the local Islamic culture, women do not learn how to swim. In the Chumbe case, teaching school girls how to swim and snorkel in coral reefs for environmental education is a huge eye-opener, and necessary for developing feelings of ownership, as well as more political support for marine conservation!

STRENGTHENING LOCAL IDENTITIES: The fact that coral reefs are something tourists come to visit from far away and spend money on, was quite an eye opener for local people! Also the fact that coral reefs are only found in the tropics, NOT in the rich countries in the North, helps a lot for developing feelings of ownership...

LEGAL NATIONAL POLICY: Well, the 'current' policies are clearly insufficient for conservation, particularly concerning marine conservation. That's why decades of rampant dynamite fishing met with little government and public concern in Tanzania. So that criterion is far too narrow and not forward looking enough! Conservation projects should be committed to lobbying and stewardship for more advanced government environmental, economic, legal and social policies. And where implementation and enforcement is lacking, policies are irrelevant!

REGIONAL DIMENSION: More than terrestrial conservation (game parks), marine conservation may have a potential impact far beyond national boundaries. The sea has no boundaries...

HUMAN RIGHTS: Well, yes the project respects them, of course...(This criterion is a bit broad).

DOCUMENTATION: The activity and the lessons learnt have been well documented, with papers to international conferences and publications.

EVALUATION: Monitoring of the island environment is an ongoing activity. The coral reef has become one of the most pristine in the region, with 370 species of fish (Fiebig 1995) and over 200 species of scleractinian coral, at least 90% of all recorded in East Africa (Veron pers. com. 1997). The forest covering the island is one of the last pristine 'coral rag' forests in Zanzibar (Beentje 1990) and has now become a sanctuary for the highly endangered Aders' duiker (Kingson 1997). Other rare species include the Coconut crabs (Birgus latro) and Roseate terns (Sterna dougalli). The several awards won by the Chumbe project (EXPO2000 worldwide project, 1999 British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Southern Regional and Global Awards...) and the extremely enthusiastic feedback from visitors to the park may also be seen as a form of evaluation...

GENERAL DISCUSSION: Chumbe Island combines sustainable tourism with sustainable conservation area management. While most protected areas around the world are dependent on financial support from governments or large donor agencies, the revenue generated from tourism on Chumbe Island subsidises the conservation and education programmes run in the park.

References BEENTJE, H.J. (1990) A Reconnaissance Survey of Zanzibar Forests and Coastal Thicket, FINNIDA-COLE, Zanzibar. CARTER, E., NYANGE, O., SAID, Y., (1997), Management Experiences of the Chumbe Reef Sanctuary 1992-1996, Paper presented at the National Coral Reef Conference, 2-4 December, Zanzibar. CHUMBE ISLAND CORAL PARK (1995), Management Plan 1995-2005, Zanzibar. CHUMBE ISLAND CORAL PARK (1999), Progress Report 1992-1999, Zanzibar. FIEBIG, S. (1995), Fish species list and management report on the Chumbe Reef Sanctuary. GUARD, M. (1997) Dynamite Fishing in Southern Tanzania, Miombo 17, Wildlife Conserv. Soc. of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. HORRILL, C. (1992) Status and Issues Affecting the Marine Resources around Fumba Peninsula, COLE Zanzibar Environmental Study Series, Number 12. ILES, D.B. (1995), Roseate Terns, Miombo, No.13, July 1995, Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanz., Dar es Salaam. KINGDON, J. (1997), The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals, Academic Press, 372-373 RIEDMILLER, S. (1991) Environmental Education in Zanzibar: Proposals for Action, Dept. of Environment, FINNIDA, Zanzibar. RIEDMILLER, S. (1998) The Chumbe Island Coral Park Project, A Case Study of Private Management of a Marine Protected Area, Paper presented at IUCN-Regional Workshop on Marine Protected Areas, Tourism and Communities, 11-13.5.98, Mombasa/Kenya. RIEDMILLER, S. (1998) The Chumbe Island Coral Park Project, Management experiences of a private marine conservation project, Paper presented at the ICRI-International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium, 23-26.11.98, Townsville/Australia. RIEDMILLER, S. (1999) The Chumbe Island Coral Park: A Private Marine Conservation Project, InterCoast Network Spring 1999, Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, USA. SCHEINMAN, D. & MABROOK, A. (1996), The Traditional Management of Coastal Resources, Tanga Coastal Zone Conservation and Development Programme, Tanga/Tanzania, June 1996. UNEP RSRS, (1989) Coastal and marine environmental problems of the United Republic of Tanzania. By M. PEARSON. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No.106. WATKINS, C.W., BARRETT, M., PAINE,J.R. (1996), Private Protected Areas, A Preliminary Study of Private Initiatives to Conserve Biodiversity in Selected African Countries, World Conserv. Monitoring Centre (WCMC), Cambridge, December 1996.

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