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The Status of Botanical Gardens in Mozambique

Samira Izidine and David Borges
Department of Botany,
National Institute of Agronomic Research
P.O. Box 3658, Maputo , Mozambique

Home | Contents | Abstract | Introduction | Current Status | The Role of Botanic Gardens | Discussion | Conclusions | Recommendations | Acknowledgement | References

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The aim of this paper is to discuss general aspects pertaining to Botanical Gardens in Mozambique. Issues related to their management and the introduction of a conservation unit in the management of plant genetic resources will also be discussed. In recent years, the increased public awareness of conservation and environmental issues has created a movement toward the establishment of conservation units within botanical gardens.

In Mozambique, there is a need for the creation a new botanical garden that will focus on indigenous non-economic plants of the country. A conservation unit should also be created, and strengthening with the herbaria and seed bank will help the overall conservation process.

Public education will be one of the strategies to develop environmental conservation awareness at different levels of society. Tourism, recreation, science and conservation will help the garden to be sustainable. The importance of conservation in botanical gardens cannot be emphasised if the conserved material is not properly used for various purposes.

In-situ conservation is the only feasible way of preserving most plant species, although ex-situ conservation may be a useful supplement in the conservation activities through botanical gardens and tissue and seed banks.

Botanical gardens are part of ex-situ conservation strategy and play an important role in conservation of wild and ornamental plants (wild food, wild relatives of crops, medicinal species and forest species).

Finally is important to point out that the complementary activities of the different strategies of conservation will help to reinforce the ability of botanical gardens to backup gene bank and herbaria materials. The herbaria, botanical gardens and seed bank are important in implementing sustainable development through conservation activities.

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Mozambique with a total land area of approximately 800 000 km² comprising 10 broad agro-ecological zones is located on the Eastern coast of Southern Africa (10 27' - 26 52' S and 30 12' - 40 51' E). The country borders Tanzania in the North; Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the West; Swaziland and South Africa in the South and to the East is the Indian ocean with coastline of approximately 2470 Km.

Mozambique has three major climatic zones namely the tropical humid, tropical dry and tropical of high altitude. The relief includes three major altitudinal zones: coastal (0-200 m. a. s. l.), middle (200-600 m a. s. l.) and high altitude (800 m. a. s. l.). Average annual temperature is approximately 25 degrees Celsius and the rainfall ranges from 400 mm to 2000 mm per year, being generally higher and reliable in the North, and erratic in the South. The soil type range from heavy to light.

There are four broad phytochoria intercepts: Mozambique Zambezian Regional Centre of Endemism, Zanzimbar-Inhambane Mosaic, Tongaland-Poundland Mosaic and the Afro-Montane system. The following are the main vegetation types: Miombo Woodland, Mopane Woodland, Grassland, Tropical Dune Forest and the Mangroves (Munisse, 1995). About 89,602 square kilometres, covering 11.16 % of the surface of the country has protected area status and consists of National Parks, Forest and Games reserves (Bandeira et al., 1994).

Botanical gardens are a component of ex-situ conservation strategy and play an important role in conservation of wild and ornamental non economic plants ( wild relatives of crops, wild food, medicinal species and forest species).

Therefore there are no Botanical gardens in the real sense of the word in Mozambique (MICOA, 1997). However, there are three gardens located in Maputo that are going to be considered for the purpose of this paper: Tunduru, National Institute of Agronomic Research (INIA) and Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) gardens, these meet the minimum basic requirements needed for development into Botanical gardens. In Mozambique, there is a need for creation of a new Botanical garden that will focus on indegenous non-economic plants of the country.

The Tunduru garden which was established in 1885 by the Lourenço Marques Horticultural Society. It is located in the heart of Maputo city covering an area of about 6.4 ha. The INIA botanic garden was established in 1967 and covers an area 16 ha and is managed by the Botanic department of this Institute, while the UEM botanic garden was established in 1976, covers about 8 ha of land and is managed by the department of Botany of the University (Maite, 1991; Bandeira et al., 1994).

The three gardens hold approximately 366 taxa of cultivated species among trees, shrubs and herbs that include succulent plants, wild relatives of crops, wild fruits, medicinal, ornamental and other threatened species. A policy document has been produced describing the current status of Botanical Gardens in Mozambique, activities to be carry out and future plans for the development of these three botanical gardens. It is the purpose of this document to put together all the relevant information for the establishment of Botanical gardens of indigenous plants, focusing on the environmental and conservation issues, on the reference for future conservation strategies of species and habitats in Mozambique.

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Current Status


Basic infrastructure is already in place but has deteriorated due to the lack of maintenance funds, and they need for rehabilitation and improvement (Table 1).

Table 1. Current status of basic infrastructure of the three botanical gardens in Mozambique

Facilities Tunduru INIA UEM
Fence Damaged good good
Green house Needs improvement Not available Not available
Offices Needs rehabilitation good good
Nursery Needs rehabilitation Not available Needs improvement
Watering system Needs rehabilitation Needs rehabilitation Needs rehabilitation
Herbarium Not available good good
Seed Bank Not available good Not available

The Cultivated Material

Approximately 82 families of plants are maintained in these gardens (Table 2). However the current records needs to be updated. This gives an idea of the material that are being maintained taking in account that more than 5500 species have been identified as occurring in Mozambique (MICOA, 1997). From these species 366 are conserved in the above mentioned gardens (annex 1).

At Tunduru botanical garden the activites of conservation have just been inittiated. The living material is grown in the garden as single species and has about 231 species, distributed as follows: 145 tree species, 67 shrubs and 19 climbing species. The most important infrastructure in Tunduru is represented in figure1. In this garden the Fabaceae is the most representative among other representing about 13 % of the surveyed plants (Sousa, 1997).

Table 2. Number of Species of Different Families Occuring at the Gardens

Family Tunduru INIA UEM Family Tunduru INIA UEMV
Acantaceae 1 0 0 Loganiaceae 3 3 1
Adiantaceae 0 0 1 Lythraceae 2 1 0
Agaveaceae 3 0 0 Magnoliaceae 1 0 0
Aizoceae 0 0 1 Malvaceae 5 2 0
Aloaceae 0 0 3 Meliaceae 5 2 1
Amarantaceae 2 0 0 Moraceae 8 2 0
Amarylidaceae 0 1 1 Musaceae 3 1 0
Anacardiaceae 6 3 3 Myrtaceae 11 1 2
Anonaceae 2 0 0 Nyctaginaceae 4 1 0
Apocynaceae 9 6 4 Ochnaceae 0 1 0
Araceae 5 0 0 Oleaceae 2 0 0
Araliaceae 1 2 0 Orchidaceae 0 0 4
Arecaceae 0 0 1 Palmae 11 4 0
Aristolachiaceae 1 0 0 Pandanaceae 2 0 0
Asclepiadaceae 0 0 1 Passifloraceae 0 1 0
Bignoniaceae 7 4 0 Pinaceae 9 2 0
Bombacaceae 2 1 0 Poaceae 2 1 0
Bromeliaceae 1 0 0 Polygalaceae 1 1 0
Burseraceae 0 1 1 Polygonaceae 1 0  
Cactaceae 3 1 0 Polypodiaceae 1 0 0
Canellaceae 0 1 1 Portulaceae 1 0 1
Capparidaceae 2 0 1 Proteaceae 2 0 0
Caprifoliaceae 1 0 0 Rhamnaceae 0 1 0
Caricaceae 1 0 0 Rosaceae 4 0 0
Casuarinaceae 1 1 0 Rubiaceae 3 1 1
Celasteraceae 0 0 1 Rutaceae 4 0 1
Combretaceae 4 2 0 Salicaceae 1 1 0
Commelinaceae 1 0 0 Sapindaceae 3 0 0
Convolvulaceae 1 0 0 Sapotaceae 3 1 1
Cycadaceae 4 2 3 Selastraceae 1 0 0
Dileniaceae 1 0 0 Simarubaceae 0 1 0
Ebenaceae 0 0 1 Solanaceae 3 0 0
Euphorbiaceae 20 8 4 Sterculiaceae 4 2 0
Fabaceae 27 14 5 Taxaceae 1 0 0
Fagaceae 1 0 0 Theaceae 2 0 0
Guttiferae 0 1 1 Thymelaeaceae 0 0 1
Hippocrateaceae 0 0 1 Tiliaceae 1 0 0
Hypoxidaceae 0 0 1 Ulmaceae 1 0 0
Juglandaceae 1 0 0 Verbenaceae 7 1 1
Lauraceae 2 1 Vitaceae 1 0 2
Liliaceae 6 3 2 Zingiberaceae 2 0 0

At INIA 81 species are cultivated being the Fabaceae the most frequent family representing about 17 % of the total. The UEM garden has about 54 species, with the more frequent families as follows: Apocynaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae and Orchidaceae, representing 29,6 % of the total species in the Garden. There is an attempt to grow the plants in gardens, such as Orchidaceae, and also an effort to concentrate the activities on indegenous or endemic species.

These gardens conserve 60 medicinal and 8 threatned plants, tables 3 and 4 respectively. In figure 2 and 3 are represented the total number of medicinal and threatned plants occuring in each Garden. In general, more than 50 % of the cultivated plants are exotic; with few native species among which are found some species belonging to protected and threatened plant lists (Maite 1991). It is estimated that about 88 species (IUCN, 1998) and 58 species (Bandeira et al., 1994) may be threatened in the country. In figure 4 and 5 are represented two threatned plants in Mozambique.


Currently the efforts are being directed to the rehabilitation and improvement of the infrastructure and facilities to required standards that comform with the role of Botanic gardens and also enhance their efficient management, i.e for the Tunduru garden new management structure has been proposed and it will consist of Environmental Education, Botany, Ecology, Horticulture, Plant Protection , Management and Public Administration.

At the UEM garden the following work is being carried on, recycling fallen plant material, improving watering system, continuing to tag the plant material (60-75% of plant are already tagged), Incrementing the overall collection in the garden, decorating with Raphia australis the entrance of the botanical garden, etc.

INIA garden no activities are on-going due to various constrains such as the lack of trained personnel, availability of financial resources and necessary equipment needed for implement the basic activities.

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The Role of Botanic Gardens

Botanic gardens are one of the complementary methods of ex situ conservation strategy and historically are associated with conservation measures focusing on the display of single specimens of scientific interest. As such, a Botanical garden does not attempt to reflect the genetic diversity of the species (Maxted et al., 1997).

Maite, 1991 quoting Radford, 1986 pointed out that the first Botanic garden with scientific and educational purpose was the garden of Theophrastos and the conservation issue was first set around the 18th century.

The UEM and INIA gardens are basically for educational purpose, supplying materials for practical lessons in the fields of Botany, Taxonomy, Forestry, etc. At a lower scale, the cultivation of threatened species and medicinal species are undertaken by UEM garden (Maite, 1991). Tunduru garden was set up for recreation and acclimatisation of introduced exotic species.

Gardens are useful for teaching and studies (functioning as centre for theoretical and practical lessons) of local flora. They are an important instrument for the public awareness of environmental and conservation issues because of their easy access for conservation and education purposes.

Botanical gardens also offer an opportunity for research with the living materials being used for studies on plant improvement, reproduction biology, hybridisation of related species, etc. They can be used by geneticists, ecologists and other scientists to carry out their research. Plant systematic can also be studied at Botanical gardens.

In recent years, with the increase of public awareness on environmental conservation issues, botanical gardens have been assuming an important role in conservation of rare species, thereby contributing more actively in protection of natural resources and their habitats.



Results of this information gathering suggest that little has been done in order to maintain and improve these botanic gardens in Mozambique. About 366 species from more than 5500 are conserved. The Tunduru garden is conserving more exotic species than indigenous. This suggests that presently this garden is not playing crucial role in the conservation of local Flora (Maite, 1991).

The UEM Botanical garden, is the single one devoloping its activities towards the establishment of a potential collection of indigenous plants, with effort on medicinal plants, wild fruits, trees of native wood and ornamental species. This garden has about 21 medicinal plant species, representing 38.8 % of the total of cultivated species in the garden.(Bandeira, 1998)

The three gardens conserve about 60 medicinal species and 8 threatened species in total; suggesting that the present role of botanical gardens in Mozambique should be changed in order to implement the conservation activities for sustainable development. In fact, the CBD (article 9), has recognised the need for conservation and development of botanical gardens (CBD, 1992).

For these gardens to operate at full capacity and act as one of the complementary methods of ex-situ conservation, it is imperative to introduce new facilities for the quick and efficient multiplication of clonal propagated species, since there are problems with human resources development.

Training component should be taken into account. Training should be directed to disciplines such as, Horticulture and Plant conservation, so that, trainees can be able to organize and manage efficiently and effectivelly the conservation process.

The gardens are facing various constraints which are the main cause for reduced activities. These constraints are: the lack of funds, legislation for Botanical Gardens, shortage of qualified technical expertise, lack of education in plant conservation matters, absence of collaboration among Botanical Gardens, Herbaria and Gene Bank personnel.



The Botanical gardens in Mozambique should play a more pivotal role in terms of conservation and environmental issues, public education and increasing awareness to the public on disappearance of native species and ecosystems.

It is imperative to elaborate the National Strategy for Botanical gardens in Mozambique with emphasis on strengtheing of collaboration between Botanical gardens, Herbaria and Gene bank.

The training of local staff on plant conservation should be given high priority in the Mozambican strategy. This must be done for all stakeholders involved in plant conservation matters, especially those who are involved in Botanical gardens and Herbaria. The training component for National programmes, should be on pos-graduate levels (MSc and PhD in Horticulture and Plant Conservation), short courses in Botanic garden management for scientific staff and assistants at Tunduru, INIA and UEM gardens.

It is expected that when all this the structural components are in place, these gardens should be in better position to assess the conservation status of plants in Mozambique and improve the capacity of Botanical gardens to provide appropriate advise to the goverment and other agencies concerned with conservation matters as well as increasing the knowledge of Botanical Diversity in Mozambique.

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As a solution, it is proposed: The creation, within the country, of botanical gardens to multiply and replant the species in their natural habitats as well as for seed production. Training in Taxonomy, Plant horticulture and Plant Conservation for Botanical Gardens staff. Promote environmental conservation and education at shools and for general public Colaboration among Botanical gardens and with other stakeholders involved in plant conservation. Create a network of National Botanical Gardens.

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We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the following people for their assistance: Drs Isabel Andrade and Inacio Maposse, Mr Henry Kamau and Ms Iva Vaz. Who made significant contribution to completion of this paper.

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Copyright 1999 NBI