Mozambique: Coastal forest turned into firewood means land is turned into ocean

On Wednesday, the governor of Maputo City, Rosa da Silva, visited the
island, where about 60 people eke out a living from fishing. According
to a report in Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, she
urged the population to take measures to halt the erosion, notably by
planting trees. But there used to be plenty of trees on Xefina.

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The local people, however, have been cutting them down for firewood,
thus hastening the day when they will have little option but to
evacuate the island.Xefina serves as a barrier, protecting coastal
Maputo neighbourhoods such as Costa do Sol and Pescadores from the
full force of the Indian Ocean.

If the island disappears, those neighbourhoods, already under threat from erosion, will suffer much more severe batterings, Xefina also, despite its small size, has considerable plant diversity. But as the island shrinks, the number of plants it can support diminishes.

Arnaldo Simango, a city architect who accompanied the governor, said a solution to the problem went beyond the powers of the city government. Since very large scale investment was required, it would need the involvement of the central authorities. There are no facilities on Xefina, and the government appears to have shelved plans to turn it into a tourist resort, which would involve building a bridge linking it to the mainland.

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