Moebase

MOZTIPA032
Moebase

Country: Mozambique

Administrative region: Zambézia (Province)

Central co-ordinates: 17.0451 S, 38.75080 E

Area: 71km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species, C(iii)Site contains nationally threatened or restricted habitat or vegetation types, AND/OR habitats that have severely declined in extent nationally

IPA assessment rationale

Moebase qualifies as an Important Plant Area under criterion A(i) as it is the only known extant site for Triceratella drummondii (CR), and holds a globally important population of Icuria dunensis (EN). It is also deemed to contain over 5% of the global population of Warneckea sessilicarpa (CR) which is known from only four sites, one of which may no longer be extant - Moebase is likely to be a critical site for the survival of this species. It also qualifies under criterion C(iii) as the Icuria-dominated coastal dry forest of the Rovuma Centre of Endemism is a nationally threatened and range-restricted habitat, and the Moebase IPA contains the largest known example of this forest type.

Site description

The Moebase IPA is located in Pebane District of Zambézia Province. It lies immediately south of the coastal village of Moebase, ca. 215 km ENE of the seaport of Quelimane. The site falls within the southern extension of the proposed Rovuma Centre of Plant Endemism [CoE] (Burrows & Timberlake 2011; Darbyshire et al. 2019a) and comprises a small area of dune systems with coastal dry forest patches and interdunal slacks on heavy mineral-rich coastal sands.

Botanical significance

This site is of high botanical importance for the presence of three rare and threatened species of the Rovuma CoE. Firstly, it is the southern-most locality for the globally Endangered endemic tree Icuria dunensis (‘icuri’ or ‘ncuri’). The Moebase IPA holds the largest confirmed patches of Icuria-dominated forest, totalling ca. 9 km2, and it is one of only three Icuria forests assessed to be in “very good condition” using a Forest Ecological Condition Index (A. Massingue, unpubl. data). This is also the first site at which Icuria was recognised as a distinct forest tree during surveys in August 1995 (Lubke et al. 2018). Secondly, the seasonal wetlands in the dune slacks at Moebase hold the only known extant population of the diminutive wetland herb Triceratella drummondii, which is assessed as Critically Endangered (S. Richards, in press). This species was previously known also from the Gwanda area of Zimbabwe, over 1,000 km inland from Moebase, but it has not been observed at that locality since the 1960s despite three searches undertaken between 1996 and 2001 to no avail (Barker et al. 2001). Around twenty individuals were observed within a single population was observed during an Environmental Impact Assessment at Moebase in 1997 (Barker et al. 2001). Finally, evidence has recently come to light that the Critically Endangered endemic shrub Warneckea sessilicarpa occurs within the Icuria forests - this is derived from a specimen (Boana #154) collected in 1997 which had previously been misidentified as W. sousae but is confirmed to be W. sessilicarpa by the global expert on this group, R.D. Stone (pers. comm.). Further discoveries of rare species are likely to be made with further exploration of these forest patches.

Habitat and geology

The Icuria forest is highly impressive here, forming dense, mono-dominant dry forest stands with many mature individuals, some reaching up to 40 m in height (A. Msssingue, pers. obs.), and with substantial recruitment evident. These forests occur on low-lying, seasonally damp, ancient sand dune systems behind the foredunes, between 1 km and 4 km from the shoreline (Lubke et al. 2018). The sands of these dunes are rich in heavy minerals including ilmenite (titanium ore), which may be of interest for mining (URS/Scott Wilson 2011). Icuria patches are surrounded by open dune scrub and woodland with typical species including Garcinia livingstonei and Strychnos spinosa (Barker et al. 2001). The interdunal slacks have a high water table and include areas of free-standing water in the wet season. Dominant species recorded in these wetlands include Eragrostis ciliaris, Xyris anceps and Utricularia sp.; Triceretalla drummondii was found in these slacks growing on open wet sands together with the Digitaria eriantha and Bulbostylis hispidula (Barker et al. 2001).
Extensive areas of miombo woodland were previously found on the raised, freely drained decksand deposits to the east of the village and north of the Icuria patches, but this woodland has been seriously depleted in recent decades as the village and associated subsistence agriculture has expanded - these miombo woodlands are excluded from the IPA delineation. To the west, the Moebase Estuary has extensive stands of mangroves, and there are also mangroves along the eastern boundary.
A habitat survey was conducted as part of an initial Environmental Impact Assessment conducted on the Moebase mining exploration concession (see Conservation Issues) but a full species inventory would be desirable and may well uncover further rare and threatened species.
The climate at Moebase is highly seasonal, with rainfall peaking in December to March; the average annual precipitation is approximately 1350 mm.

Conservation issues

This IPA falls within the extensive (>8,000 km2) Primeiras & Segundas Environmental Protection Area (APAIPS) which extends along the coast south to Pebane and north to Angoche. However, the emphasis here is on offshore and marine protection, and there is little evidence of conservation action at Moebase at present.
The surrounding area is subject to high population pressure from the expanding settlement of Moebase and encroachment of subsistence agriculture into natural habitats. A previously large area of miombo woodland on the eastern edge of the village has been largely destroyed over the past 30 – 40 years and it is feared that, now that this wood resource has been largely exhausted, the local population may target the Icuria patches more frequently (Darbyshire et al. 2019b). However, at present the Icuria patches are largely intact. The primary threats currently are clearance for access routes to the beach, uncontrolled burning, and the stripping of Icuria bark for making ropes (A. Massingue, pers. obs.). Areas of fixed dunes in both the west and east of the IPA have been converted to mashambas.
A significant future threat to this IPA is that it falls within a mining concession (License 4623C, Moebase and Naburi deposits, currently owned by Pathfinder Minerals plc), and has commercially viable concentrations of heavy minerals (URS/Scott Wilson 2011). There is continued interest in the exploitation of these deposits.
The Moebase IPA overlaps with the Moebase Region Important Bird Area (BirdLife International 2020) which covers the Moebase Estuary and surrounding coastal habitats. The area is also of interest for other faunal groups including reptiles. This site is included within the extensive APAIPS Key Biodiversity Area. As Moebase is the only known extant locality for the Critically Endangered species, Triceratella drummondii, it would also qualify as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site.

Ecosystem services

This IPA is considered to provide a range of ecosystem services. The stands of Icuria in particular help to stabilise and protect the coastal sand deposits and so prevent excessive erosion during extreme weather events. The forest also provides provisioning services for the local community, which could be managed at sustainable levels. It also provides important habitat and supporting services for a range of fauna.

Site assessor(s)

Iain Darbyshire, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Alice Massingue, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane

IPA criterion A species

Species Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 1% of global population ≥ 5% of national population 1 of 5 best sites nationally Entire global population Socio-economically important Abundance at site
Icuria dunensis Wieringa A(i) True True True False False Abundant
Warneckea sessilicarpa (A.Fern. & R.Fern.) Jacq.-Fel. A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Triceratella drummondii Brenan A(i) True True True True False Scarce

Icuria dunensis Wieringa

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Abundant

Warneckea sessilicarpa (A.Fern. & R.Fern.) Jacq.-Fel.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Triceratella drummondii Brenan

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
True
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Scarce

IPA criterion C qualifying habitats

Habitat Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 5% of national resource ≥ 10% of national resource 1 of 5 best sites nationally Areal coverage at site
Rovuma Icuria Coastal Dry Forest C(iii) False True True 8.95

Rovuma Icuria Coastal Dry Forest

Qualifying sub-criterion:
C(iii)
≥ 5% of national resource:
False
≥ 10% of national resource:
True
Areal coverage at site:
8.95

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Forest No value Major
Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Shrubland No value Major
Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Sand Dunes No value Major
Savanna - Moist Savanna No value Minor
Artificial - Terrestrial - Arable Land No value Minor

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Shrubland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Sand Dunes

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Savanna - Moist Savanna

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Artificial - Terrestrial - Arable Land

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Tourism / Recreation No value Major
Harvesting of wild resources No value Unknown
Agriculture (arable) No value Minor

Tourism / Recreation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Harvesting of wild resources

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Unknown

Agriculture (arable)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants Medium Ongoing - increasing
Energy production & mining - Mining & quarrying Unknown Future - inferred threat
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming Medium Ongoing - trend unknown

Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Energy production & mining - Mining & quarrying

Severity:
Unknown
Timing:
Future - inferred threat

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Primeiras & Segundas Environmental Protection Area protected/conservation area encompasses IPA No value

Primeiras & Segundas

Protected area type:
Environmental Protection Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area encompasses IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Conservation designation

Designation name Protected area Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Moebase Region Important Bird Area protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA No value
APAIPS Key Biodiversity Area protected/conservation area encompasses IPA No value

Moebase Region

Protected area:
Important Bird Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

APAIPS

Protected area:
Key Biodiversity Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area encompasses IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Management type

Management type Description Year started Year finished
No management plan in place No value No value

No management plan in place

Year started:
No value
Year finished:
No value

Bibliography

Darbyshire, I., Massingue, A.O., Osborne, J., De Sousa, C., Matimele, H.A., Alves, M.T., Burrows, J.E., Chelene, I., Datizua, C., Fijamo, V., Langa, C., Massunde, J., Mucaleque, P.A., Rokni, S. & Sitoe, P., 2019

Icuria dunensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T136532836A136538183.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Available online

Darbyshire, I., Timberlake, J., Osborne, J., Rokni, S., Matimele, H., Langa, C., Datizua, C., de Sousa, C., Alves, T., Massingue, A., Hadj-Hammou, J., Dhanda, S., Shah, T. & Wursten, B., 2019

The endemic plants of Mozambique: diversity and conservation status

PhytoKeys, Vol 136, page(s) 45-96 Available online

Burrows, J.E. & Timberlake, J.R., 2011

Mozambique’s centres of endemism, with special reference to the Rovuma Centre of Endemism of NE Mozambique and SE Tanzania.

South African Journal of Botany, Vol 77, page(s) 518

BirdLife International, 2021

Important Bird Areas factsheet: Primeiras and Segundas Environmental Protection Area (APAIPS).

Available online

URS/Scott Wilson, 2011

Scoping Study Report on the Moebase and Naburi Mineral Sands Deposits, Mozambique. Report prepared for Pathfinder Minerals plc.

Available online

Lubke, R.A., Dold, A.D., Brink, E., Avis, A.M. & Wieringa, J.J., 2018

A new species of tree, Icuria dunensis (Icurri), of undescribed coastal forests in north-eastern Mozambique.

South African Journal of Botany, Vol 115, page(s) 292-293 Available online

Barker, N.P., Faden, R.B., Brink, E. & Dold, A.P., 2001

Rediscovery of Triceratella drummondii, and comments on its relationships and position within the family.

Bothalia, Vol 31, page(s) 37-39

Richards, S., in press

Triceratella drummondii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Recommended citation

Iain Darbyshire, Alice Massingue (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Moebase (Mozambique). https://tipas.kew.org/site/moebase-2/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)