Lake Niassa and its Coastal Zone (Lago Niassa e Zona Costeira) is located in the Niassa Province in Mozambique (1,363,700 ha; 12º30’S 034º51’E). Lake Niassa is an important resource for the country and is part of Africa’s third largest lake – the other two parts being in Malawi (where the lake is referred to as Lake Malawi) and in Tanzania (where it is known as Lake Nyasa). As one of the African Rift Valley great lakes, it is also part of the Miombo Woodlands ecoregion.
This site has numerous unique features, from its boundaries that range from extensive plains in the South and steep sided mountains in the North, to the high levels of fish species that are endemic to the lake (90%) with more species continually being discovered. This site is also recognised for its support of threatened populations of leopard, sable antelope, and elephants amongst others. The Lake also lies within flyways of migratory birds that use the lake margins as staging areas between Africa and Europe.
While the site is facing severe threats due to the overexploitation of the lake's resources, it is important in the sustenance of the surrounding populations’ livelihoods through activities such as fishing, agriculture, animal rearing, hunting, trade and handicrafts. Lake Niassa has been officially declared a reserve by the Government of Mozambique, protecting the species and natural habitats of one of the largest and most bio-diverse, freshwater ecosystems in the world.
This designation has been supported by WWF International Freshwater Programme, the Swiss Grant for Africa, and WWF-Mozambique. Photo courtesy © Denis Landenbergue/WWF.