Pilot Sites: Unhocomo and Unhocomozinho
Unhocomo and Unhocomozinho islands are part of the Boloma Bijagos’ Biosphere Reserve designated by UNESCO in 1996. The reserve is high in biological diversity, and composed of different ecosystems – mangroves, mudflats, sandbanks. It is home to a highly diversified fauna including birds, fish, reptiles (crocodiles), and mammals (lamantins). Additionally, the archipelago has been recognized as the most important site in Africa for Chelonia mydas (turtle) to lay their eggs.
The site’s protection is crucial to maintain local communities’ livelihood. Artisanal fisheries and shell gathering are the main source of income and protein for the local populations. Moreover, the BIjago ethnic group’s belief system revolves around sacred lands and speciessuch as marine turtles and hippopotamus.Seagrasses play an important role in preserving this unique biodiversity and maintaining the local communities’ livelihood. An exploration along Unhocomo and Unhocomozinho islands’ shores permitted to identify seagrass meadows of Halodule Wrightii. Yet, the influx of seasonal fishermen and the introduction of foreign vessels are potential threats for the ecosystem. This situation calls for further exploration to fully map the extent of seagrasses in the area in order to improve their protection.