Pomene

MOZTIPA041
Pomene

Country: Mozambique

Administrative region: Inhambane (Province)

Central co-ordinates: 22.9979 S, 35.55960 E

Area: 74km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species, A(iv)Site contains one or more range restricted endemic species that are potentially threatened, B(ii)Site contains an exceptional number of species of high conservation importance

IPA assessment rationale

Pomene qualifies under IPA sub-criterion A(i) with two Vulnerable species: Euphorbia baylissii, Elaeodendron fruticosum and Solanum litoraneum. This site also qualifies under sub-criterion A(iv) for the range restricted endemic Salicornia mossambicensis (DD). With 11 endemic taxa recorded to-date, Pomene also qualifies under sub-criterion B(ii), falling within the top 15 sites nationally for endemic and range restricted species. While there is currently insufficient information for assessing this site under criterion C(iii), it should also be noted that Pomene hosts an extensive area of intact coastal dune habitat. Much of this habitat in southern Mozambique has been degraded through conversion to agriculture, however, the Pomene Natural Reserve has facilitated the protection of this habitat within the IPA.

Site description

The Pomene IPA falls within Massinga District of Inhambane Provence. The site is predominantly coastal and lies to the east of the Muducha River, spanning an area of 74 km2 from Guma village in the south to the estuary at Pomene Bay in the north-west and Ponta Barra Falsa (False Bar Point) to the north-east. The boundary largely follows that of Pomene National Reserve, however, the most northerly section, including the mangrove forest and lagoons west of the Muducha estuary, and the eastern boundary, following the shoreline to incorporate the intact dune habitat, of this IPA are beyond the reserve boundary.
The presence of the National Reserve at Pomene has maintained a large area of intact vegetation, particularly coastal dunes, in contrast to much of the coastline from Maputo to the Save River which has been cleared for subsistence farming (BirdLife International 2001). The site also falls within the proposed Inhambane Centre of Plant Endemism (Darbyshire et al. 2019) and there are at least 11 endemic species known from the Pomene IPA.

Botanical significance

Pomene falls within the proposed Inhamabane Centre of Plant Endemism (Darbyshire et al. 2019). A total of 11 endemic species have been recorded within this IPA. One of these endemic species, Elaeodendron fruticosum (VU), is only known from this Centre of Endemism (CoE) and has been described as common towards Pomene Bay. E. fruticosum is one of three globally threatened species recorded at this site alongside Euphorbia baylissi and Solanum litoraneum. All three of these Vulnerable species are threatened throughout their ranges by conversion of habitat to subsistence agriculture (Matimele et al. 2018, Richards 2021). Currently both threatened species are only known from outside the Pomene National Reserve boundary within this IPA, towards Ponta Barra Falsa, where land is moderately threatened by tourism.
Salicornia mossambicensis, one of the eleven endemics at this site, occurs in the salt marshes to the north. Currently assessed as Data Deficient, this species is only known from one other location which, due to its proximity to the city of Inhambane, is highly threatened in this area. The range of S. mossambicensis, based on extent of occurrence calculated using an area of habitat approach (Brooks et al. 2019), is approximately 200 km2, less than the 5000 km2 threshold to qualify as a range restricted endemic under IPA sub-criterion A(iv).
A number of species recorded at this site are also found across the Maputaland CoE in the broadest sense, for instance, Trichoneura schlechteri, has been recorded from this IPA and represents the only collection in Inhambane Province and the most northerly edge of this species’ known range. In addition, Encepharlartos ferox subsp. ferox (assessed as NT at species level) has a distribution from Inhambane to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and occurs within the coastal woodland near Ponta Barra Falsa. This cycad is common throughout its range but is threatened by overcollection and the loss of coastal habitat (Donaldson 2010).
The intact coastal habitats at this site, including dune vegetation and mangrove salt marshes to the north, are of clear importance to a number of species with limited distributions. The coastal habitat of Pomene is of particular importance as much of this vegetation is under threat or has already been cleared to make way for subsistence agriculture, with this IPA representing the longest tract of intact coastal forest between the Save River and Maputo (BirdLife International 2001).

Habitat and geology

Pomene, as a coastal site, is underlaid by sandy soils with little organic matter or water retention ability (Macandza et al. 2015). The area of 1 to 2 km westward from the coastline is dominated by coastal dune vegetations types, with pioneer communities on the foredunes including species such as Ipomoea pes-caprae, Cyperus crassipes and Canavalia rosea (Macandza et al. 2015). Further inland is dense coastal thicket dominated by Diospyros rotundifolia and Mimusops caffra, hosting the endemic Elaeodendron fruticosum (LC) and the near-endemic cycad Encephalartos ferox subsp. ferox (assessed as NT at species level). On the most inland section of the coastal dunes, the dense thicket transitions to miombo dominated by Brachystegia spiciformis and Afzelia quanzensis (Macandza et al. 2015).
To the west of the dunes, running from north-east to the south-west of the national reserve, is an area of shrubby grassland. Common shrubby species in these areas include Salacia kraussii, Hyphaene coriacea and Garcinia livingstonei, while dominant grasses include Heteropogon contortus and Imperata cylindrica (Macandza et al. 2015). A number of endemic species inhabit the shrubby-grassland mosaic including Dracaena subspicata and Chamaecrista paralias.
Towards the north of the IPA, surrounding the lagoon and on the banks of Muducha River, is an area of mangrove forest, most of which lies outside the boundaries of the National Reserve. Five mangrove species are known from this area, in order of dominance, these are: Rhizophora mucronata, Avicennia marina, Ceriops tagal, Bruguiera gymnorhiza and Soneratia alba (Louro et al. 2017). The mangrove species are used by local communities for construction as the timber is resistant to insect damage (Macandza et al. 2015). The salt marshes associated with the mangroves are important habitat for the endemic species Psydrax moggii (LC) and Salicornia mossambicensis (DD). This IPA has been delineated to include only the mangroves east of the Muchuda River, however, it should also be noted that there is also a 3 km stretch of mangrove forest to the north of this site, toward Macashale, which is also likely to be of ecological importance.
Seasonally flooded grasslands are found at the margins of the mangroves on the banks of the Muchada River as it approaches the estuary. These areas have not been extensively studied, however, they are known to be dominated by a number of Cyperus species and grasses such as Imperata cylindrica and Dichanthium species (probably D. annulatum) (Macandza et al. 2015). South of the mangroves, the riverbanks are dominated by reedbeds mostly of the species Phragmites mauritianus, while species of the genus Cyperus are common. Coix lacryma-jobi is described by Macandza et al. (2015) as dominant in the reed beds, however, as a non-native species that is not commonly known from this part of Mozambique, it is not clear whether this represents a misidentification or an as yet unrecorded introduction. The herbaceous Rubiaceae Oldenlandia corymbosa has also been recorded from these areas and is likely associated with disturbed areas. There are some large trees on the riverbanks including Ficus species (Macandza et al. 2015). Both the seasonally inundated grasslands and the riverine vegetation are on clay-rich soils with a high organic matter content and high water retention, in contrast to the sandy soils that cover the rest of the IPA (Macandza et al. 2015).
From the centre to the western boundary of the IPA, the vegetation is predominantly miombo, covering nearly 40% of the National Reserve (Macandza et al. 2015). The miombo here is dominated by Julbernardia globiflora, although, like the dune miombo, both Brachystegia spiciformis and Afzelia quanzensis feature heavily in the species composition. Most of this woodland is open with seasonal pools and a grassy understory dominated by Heteropogon contortus, Digitaria eriantha and, in wetter areas, Imperata cylindrica (Macandza et al. 2015). It may be of interest to study these pools for the presence of ephemeral wetland species such as Ammannia, a genus known to include a number of endemic and near-endemic species in Mozambique (Darbyshire et al. 2019). Denser patches of miombo, predominantly south of the settlements within the reserve (centered on -22.98°, 35.55°), have a thinner grass understory and show much less disturbance than the open miombo.

Conservation issues

The Pomene IPA expands upon the current boundary of Pomene National Reserve and only the mangroves and dunes to the north near Pomene Bay and the dunes along the eastern shoreline are not currently protected. The national reserve was established in 1964 and 200 km2 in area was originally designated; however, at present the reserve covers only 50 km2 (Macandza et al. 2015). Management structures for the reserve were only created in 2009 and subsequently the first management plan, covering the period 2016 – 2020, was set out. This plan included a proposed expansion of the reserve which would cover all of the eastern dunes and the dunes and mangroves in the north of this IPA within the core zone, with the mangroves north of this IPA, towards Macashale, in the buffer zone (Impacto Lda. 2016). Separately, the development of a marine reserve, including the marine and coastal landscape of this IPA up to Vilankulos Bay, was also proposed recently by a joint public-private initiative. In any case, the proposed expansions would incorporate the entirety of this IPA, which would be of particular importance for the continued integrity of the dunes and northern mangroves.
The reserve itself is not as heavily populated as surrounding areas, however, there were around 500 residents recorded by the reserve administration, concentrated primarily in the north (Impacto Lda. 2016). Land in the wider Massinga area, like much of the reserve, is underlaid by sandy soils with poor fertility, allowing only 2 – 3 agricultural cycles before it is abandoned (Macandza et al. 2015). The resulting scarcity of agricultural land outside the reserve has led people to move inside its boundaries. However, some of the homesteads, particularly in the south, have previously been abandoned, with sources suggesting that people left due to the restrictions on permitted activities within the reserve or to find work elsewhere (Impacto Lda. 2016). Machambas in the north of the reserve are sparsely distributed and most households depend on subsistence farming, growing crops such as maize, cowpea and cassava, as well as breeding poultry, goats and pigs. While poor soils in the region may have driven people to farm land within the reserve, given that soils are similarly poor within the reserve, there is a high threat of shifting agriculture within the reserve as soils exhaust quickly and people are forced to move to gain a sufficient harvest. Agronomic research and support for local people in transitioning to more sustainable agricultural techniques throughout the district could help alleviate land pressure both inside and outside this IPA.
Linked to agriculture is the threat of uncontrolled fires, most of which stem from the use of fire to open up land for farming (Macandza et al. 2015). With high fuel loads and the highest density of people, the miombo and shrubby grassland to the north are at greatest risk from uncontrolled fires.
Wood for domestic fuel is extracted from miombo while timber is extracted from mangroves, particularly trees of larger diameter, for construction of homes and the camps of fisherman who visit the site for the wet season (Louro et al. 2017). The mangrove forest is also thought to experience degradation through the fishing of marine invertebrates such as the giant mud crab (Scylla serrata). A study by Louro et al. (2017) found that up to 41% of trees near the water’s edge were cut; however, some regeneration was also observed following felling. The mangroves at Pomene are of great ecological value, with a number of interesting marine species including sea turtle and dolphin species alongside whale shark and possibly dugong (Louro et al. 2017). Mangroves are also known for providing protection against storm surges. It is therefore of upmost importance that this ecosystem is integrated into the protected area network and that only sustainable usage is permitted.
The establishment of zonation to regulate anthropogenic disturbance was suggested in the 2016 – 2020 management plan (see Impacto Lda. 2016). Under this proposal, much of the eastern mangroves, including areas currently outside the reserve, would be placed under a “Community and Resource Use” zone, allowing for the continued use of the area for sustainable subsistence activities but preventing the use of resources for commercial purposes. Much of the rest of the reserve, consisting mostly of open miombo and shrubby grasslands, would be placed under “Resource Management” which suggests further limitations on permitted activities compared to the above zone in an effort to restore grazing mammals and promote tourism. “Special Protection” zones cover the dense miombo and the riverine/estuary vegetation including the seasonally flooded grassland, riverine fringes and some of the western patches of mangrove. In these areas, it is proposed that there would be no extraction of resources, with only the collection of medicinal plants and artisanal fishing for local purposes allowed with written permission from the reserve.
Previous to the first management plan, local initiatives were established with a view to conserving local wildlife. The Pomene Co-management Committee (Comité de Co-gestão Pomene) and the Community Fisheries Council (Conselho Comunitário de Pescas) are two community organisations working in partnership with the reserve administration. Both committees promote community engagement with conservation of both coastal and marine ecosystems through educating local people on the threats to local biodiversity and the benefits of protecting this biodiversity for livelihoods and future generations. Alongside education, patrols are undertaken to detect illegal activities such as uncontrolled fires or the cutting of mangrove or reeds for sale (Macandza et al. 2015).
The community engagement prior to the implementation of management plans appears to have had a significant impact on the activities of local communities, with a survey finding that 67% of respondents were aware that there are laws restricting resource use within the reserve (Macandza et al. 2015). In addition, the reserve is one of the most intact stretches of coastline in southern Mozambique which further suggests a level of local adherence.
The high-quality coastal habitat is of particular importance for avian taxa, providing habitat for species such as the globally Near Threatened Plain-backed Sunbird (Cyanomitra verreauxii) and the range restricted species (defined by the Important Bird Area criteria) Apalis ruddi (LC). With a number of threatened and range restricted species, the site was recognised in 2001 as an Important Bird Area.

Ecosystem services

The mangroves in the north of the IPA provide a range of ecosystem services, including timber for construction, food (primarily seafood), and medicines, as well as environmental regulation through protection of coastal habitats and mitigation against storm surges that may become more frequent and extreme with climate change (Macandza et al. 2015). The marine life that inhabits the mangroves provide employment in the rainy season for itinerant fisherman; however, this practice may be restricted in future if the reserve boundary expands to include the eastern patch of mangrove forest.
The timber from mangroves is preferred for construction due to its insect resistant properties, however, wood is also extracted from miombo to use as fuel, with around 80% of respondents to a survey of local residents stating that firewood is their main source of domestic energy. Reeds and papyrus obtained from the wetlands are useful sources of fibre to make mats and sieves, and wild-harvested fruits, tubers and roots are important sources of food during times of famine (Macandza et al. 2015).
The interesting avifauna and range of habitats provide the site with tourism potential. While there are already three lodges established to the north of the reserve, and around 20% of local people received some income from tourism in 2015, (Macandza et al. 2015) the site does not receive large numbers of tourists at present, with an average of only 19 visitors per month in 2015 (Impacto Lda. 2016). Currently Pomene National Reserve gains income from the entry fee and so is not receiving substantial income from tourism. However, the 2016-2020 management plan recognised the potential for responsibly planned tourism to create greater financial sustainability for the reserve and sets out long-term ambitions to this end. Tourism in particular could make an important contribution to the incomes of local people, many of whom live below the poverty line as defined by the World Bank (Macandza et al. 2015; World Bank 2020). It is not known how much progress has been made in expanding tourism; however, in 2017 the site became a new stop for MSC Cruises, with excursions including tours of the mangroves and snorkelling (South Africa Travel Online 2021). While tourism would create much needed income for the local area, activities should be monitored to ensure that there is no undue disturbance of habitats and planning should be done in collaboration with local communities.
Three sacred sites have been recorded from within the IPA, two of which are located in the dunes to the north. From interviews with local leaders, the sites represent founder families within the area with ceremonies including rain request ceremonies, healing request ceremonies and the welcoming of visitors (Macandza et al. 2015).

Site assessor(s)

Sophie Richards, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Iain Darbyshire, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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
Euphorbia baylissii L.C.Leach A(i) True True True False False Occasional
Elaeodendron fruticosum N.Robson A(i) True True True False False Frequent
Salicornia mossambicensis (Brenan) Piirainen & G.Kadereit A(iv) True True True False False Unknown
Solanum litoraneum A.E.Gonç. A(i) True True True False False Unknown

Euphorbia baylissii L.C.Leach

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:
Occasional

Elaeodendron fruticosum N.Robson

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:
Frequent

Salicornia mossambicensis (Brenan) Piirainen & G.Kadereit

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iv)
≥ 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

Solanum litoraneum A.E.Gonç.

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

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Sand Dunes No value Major
Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes No value Minor
Marine Intertidal - Mangrove Submerged Roots No value Major
Marine Intertidal - Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) No value Minor
Marine Intertidal - Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, etc. No value Minor
Marine Intertidal - Tidepools No value Minor
Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded Lowland Grassland No value Minor
Savanna - Moist Savanna No value Major
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Forest Vegetation Above High Tide Level No value Major
Artificial - Terrestrial - Arable Land No value Minor

Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Sand Dunes

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Marine Intertidal - Mangrove Submerged Roots

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Marine Intertidal - Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Marine Intertidal - Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, etc.

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Marine Intertidal - Tidepools

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded Lowland Grassland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Savanna - Moist Savanna

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Forest Vegetation Above High Tide Level

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Artificial - Terrestrial - Arable Land

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Nature conservation 67 Major
Agriculture (arable) 5 Minor
Tourism / Recreation 5 Minor

Nature conservation

Percent coverage:
67
Importance:
Major

Agriculture (arable)

Percent coverage:
5
Importance:
Minor

Tourism / Recreation

Percent coverage:
5
Importance:
Minor

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Residential & commercial development - Tourism & recreation areas Medium Ongoing - trend unknown
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Shifting agriculture Medium Ongoing - trend unknown
Agriculture & aquaculture - Marine & freshwater aquaculture - Subsistence/artisinal aquaculture Low Ongoing - trend unknown
Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting Low Ongoing - trend unknown
Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity High Ongoing - trend unknown

Residential & commercial development - Tourism & recreation areas

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Shifting agriculture

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Agriculture & aquaculture - Marine & freshwater aquaculture - Subsistence/artisinal aquaculture

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Pomene National Reserve National Reserve IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 67

Pomene National Reserve

Protected area type:
National Reserve
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
67

Conservation designation

Designation name Protected area Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Pomene Important Bird Area IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 67

Pomene

Protected area:
Important Bird Area
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
67

Management type

Management type Description Year started Year finished
Protected Area management plan in place A management plan was drawn up by Impacto Lda. in 2016. 2016 2020

Protected Area management plan in place

A management plan was drawn up by Impacto Lda. in 2016.
Year started:
2016
Year finished:
2020

Bibliography

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

BirdLife International, 2001

Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pomene

Available online

Brooks, T.M., Pimm, S.L., Akçakaya, H.R., Buchanan, G.M., Butchart, S.H., Foden, W., Hilton-Taylor, C., Hoffmann, M., Jenkins, C.N., Joppa, L. & Li, B.V., 2019

Measuring Terrestrial Area of Habitat (AOH) and Its Utility for the IUCN Red List

Trends in Ecology & Evolution Opinion, Vol 34, page(s) 977-986 Available online

Donaldson, J., 2010

Encephalartos ferox. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41943A10607271

Available online

Impacto Lda., 2016

Plano de Maneio da Reserva Nacional de Pomene

Available online

Louro, C. M. M., Litulo, C., Pereira, M. A. M., & Pereira, T. I. F. C., 2017

Investigação e Monitoria de Espécies e Ecossistemas nas Áreas de Conservação Marinhas em Moçambique: Reserva Nacional do Pomene 2016

Macandza, V., Mamugy, F., Manjate, A.M. & Nacamo, E., 2015

Estudo das Condições Ecológicas e Socioeconómicas da Reserva Nacional de Pomene

Available online

Matimele, H., Alves, M., Baptista, O., Bezeng, S., Darbyshire, I., Datizua, C., De Sousa, C., Langa, C., Massingue, A., Mtshali, H., Mucaleque, P., Odorico, D., Osborne, J., Raimondo, D., Rokni, S., Sitoe, P., Timberlake, J., Viegas, A. & Vilanculos, A., 2018

Euphorbia baylissii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T120955807A120980243

Available online

South Africa Travel Online, 2021

Cruises to Pomene from Durban 2021/2022

Available online

World Bank, 2020

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020: Reversal of Fortunes

Recommended citation

Sophie Richards, Iain Darbyshire (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Pomene (Mozambique). https://tipas.kew.org/site/pomene/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)