The law on conservation in Mozambique is rooted in the Constitution which provides for general guiding principles for conservation as well as rights and duties of citizens in conserving their environment. The Constitution provides that all citizens have the right to live in a balanced environment and the obligation to protect it from degradation. It further provides that natural resources located in the soil, underground, sea and fresh water belong to the State and calls for the need of establishing areas for the protection of nature. Accordingly, the State should adopt policies to protect the environment and encourage sustainable use of natural resources.
The Environmental Law was enacted in 1997. Its main objective is to create the legal basis for the wise use and management of the environment and its components in order to achieve the sustainable development of the country. This Law states that environmental management should be guided by principles that enable citizens to live in a balanced environment. These principles include, wise use and management of environment, integration of local communities and their traditional knowledge in the conservation and preservation of natural resources, precautionary principle, gender equity in the access and use of natural resources, environmental responsibility and international cooperation for finding solutions to environmental problems.
Specific to the protection of biodiversity, the Environmental Law creates an enabling legal environment for the establishment of areas of environmental protection which are subject to classification, conservation and enforcement measures in accordance with the needs of biodiversity protection, as well as the social, economic, cultural and scientific value of the area. All activities that threaten conservation, reproduction, quality and quantity of biological resources and specially threatened species are prohibited.
Under the Environmental Law, the government is responsible for the maintenance and regeneration of animal species, rehabilitation of degraded habitats and for controlling activities that might harm wildlife species and their habitats. It is the responsibility of the government to create mechanisms for the engagement of civil society and communities, and in particular, associations for environmental protection in the preparation of natural resource policies and legislation. This includes the engagement of local communities to support overall law enforcement and to protect the environment.
The Forests and Wildlife Law
The Forests and Wildlife Law (FWL) was enacted in July 1999 to define the principles and rules for the protection, conservation and sustainable use of forest and wildlife resources. The FWL provides that forest and wildlife resources belong to the State and that anybody causing damage to these resources should be responsible for their replacement. The Forest and Wildlife Law calls for the need of establishing protected areas as a measure to conserve biodiversity, which should be managed with the engagement of local communities.
The FWL is implemented by the Forestry and Wildlife Regulations (FWR) adopted on 6th June 2002. This Regulation enables the implementation of the Forests and Wildlife Law by describing in details the licensing procedures, hunting areas, hunting tools and equipment, wildlife offenses, areas where hunting can take place and offences and penalties, among other issues. This regulation also provides the list of protected wildlife species, whose hunting is prohibited.
The Conservation Areas Law
The other law addressing wildlife issues is the Conservation Areas Law (CAL) enacted in 2014. The CAL was enacted to fill existing gaps in the laws on management of conservation areas and focuses on conservation areas management. It establishes in details the principles and norms for the protection, conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biological diversity for the sustainable development of the country. It introduces new categories of conservation areas, encouragement to public-private partnership and participation of local communities in the management and conservation of biodiversity and conservation areas. It also defines offences and provides for more deterrent penalties.