Marine Conservation Agreements
A Practitioner's Toolkit

Tanzania Field Project

The Tanzania Marine Conservation Agreement (MCA) field project was presented as a case study at the workshop, A Private Sector Approach – Conservation Agreements in Support of Marine Protection. The project illustrates how a for-profit venture can work with a national government and local community to establish a financially self-sustaining coral park through management agreements and leases. Presentation materials from the case study can be downloaded from the Learn More box.

Chumbe Island Coral Park

The Chumbe Island Coral Park is a unique, privately established and managed nature reserve recognized by the Zanzibar government. The park is located on and around a small coral island just west of the large island of Zanzibar.

Learn More

Chumbe Island Coral Park: Helping save the coral reefs of Tanzania

The park includes a 30-hectare marine reef sanctuary and a coral-rag forest reserve covering most of the island's 22 hectares. Founded in 1992 to establish and manage the reserve, Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. (CHICOP) won management contracts and a lease from the Zanzibar government to create the park, which has become both a successful ecotourism destination and an internationally recognized conservation success. The reef is now a UN-recognized marine protected area.

The legal structure of the park is complex. Zanzibar comprises two large islands (Unguja and Pemba) that form a semi-autonomous region within the United Republic of Tanzania. For foreign citizens and organizations (such as CHICOP Ltd.), land tenure in Tanzania (including Zanzibar) is generally only available for approved investment purposes through leaseholds. There are several small islands around Zanzibar, most of which are uninhabited and some are used for tourism (e.g., Chumbe Island). Based on the investment proposal of CHICOP Ltd., in 1993 CHICOP was granted a lease on 2.4 hectares for its eco-lodge facilities and visitor center, and in 1994 the Chumbe Island Reef Sanctuary and the Chumbe Forest Reserve were “gazetted” (officially declared and made law by publication in the Government Gazette) by the Zanzibar government, giving exclusive management rights of the reserve to CHICOP Ltd. In 1994, CHICOP also entered into management contracts for both the marine sanctuary (initially for 10 years and then renewed for another 10 years in 2004) and the forest reserve (for 33 years). Both management contracts are renewable upon expiration. However, like any land lease or agreement in Tanzania, CHICOP has no legal assurances that the lease and management contracts will be renewed after expiration. A 1995-2005 management plan for the reserve was developed with wide stakeholder participation and extended and updated for 2006-2016.

Sibylle Riedmiller, a former aid worker, conservationist, and sailing and diving enthusiast, formed CHICOP with the ambition to create a marine park where profits from tourism would help support conservation and environmental education. Over-fishing and destructive fishing practices (such as dynamite fishing, smashing corals to chase fish into encircling nets, and beach seining) are common in the region. Chumbe Island was a good candidate for conservation because it was uninhabited, traditionally closed to fishing because of its location near the shipping channel between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania, and therefore relatively well preserved.

CHICOP employs and trains local people as park rangers, guides, and hospitality workers. The rangers and guides educate fisherman about the importance of coral reefs and of a small no-take zone as a breeding sanctuary for fisheries. As a result, CHICOP has been able to demonstrate that protection of the Chumbe reef helps restock over-fished reefs beyond the waters of the sanctuary. CHICOP has hosted and conducted extensive research, some in cooperation with the University of Dar es Salaam's Institute of Marine Sciences and the Zanzibar Departments of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries. CHICOP has become a pioneer in the field of environmental education on coral reef ecology and nature conservation for teachers and school students in Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. Though Zanzibar is a coral island and Tanzania has extensive coral reefs, school syllabi do not cover coral reef ecology and the general public has little awareness of their importance as a valuable natural resource.

After 15 years of successful management, Chumbe Island has won many prestigious international awards and become a center of exceptional biodiversity and a breeding sanctuary for endangered and rare species. The Chumbe Reef Sanctuary is one of the most pristine in the region, with over 420 fish species and 200 species of stone coral. The Forest Reserve is the last undisturbed semi-arid 'coral rag' forest in Zanzibar, particularly after successful rat (Rattus rattus) eradication in 1997. With support from the Zoo Munich-Hellabrunn, Flora and Fauna International, and the Chicago Zoological Society, a translocation program (1999) made Chumbe Island a sanctuary for highly endangered endemic Aders' duikers (Cephalophus adersi), threatened by poaching and habitat destruction in Zanzibar. Chumbe also harbors the world's largest known population of rare Coconut crabs (Birgus latro). Attracted by abundant fish in the reef sanctuary, rare Roseate terns (Sterna dougalli) bred on Chumbe in 1994 and 2006.

Another outstanding feature of the Chumbe project is the application of state-of-the-art Eco-architecture and Eco-technology in all developments and operations. Rainwater catchment provides shower water that is heated by solar power. Photovoltaic energy is used for lighting and communication. Composting toilets avoid any sewage and save precious water, while biological greywater filtration cleans shower and kitchen water. Water pollution is minimized through biodegradable soaps. Organic waste is composted, other waste is removed and laundry is washed off the island. Guests are given solar torches for walking to the restaurant at night to avoid light pollution and protect feeding and breeding patterns of nocturnal animals.

Transaction Summary

Management Contract 2 (marine sanctuary, forest reserve)
Area 118.4 acres (49.6 hectares)
Resource Fringing coral reef and seagrass beds (30 hectares) and coral-rag forest (19.6 hectares)
Dates/duration 1995 to 2015, 10 yr renewable (marine); 1993 to 2026, 33 yr (forest reserve)
Fee/price None
Location Chumbe Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Use Marine sanctuary, wildlife sanctuary, research, eco-tourism, and local education
Grantor(s) Zanzibar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources 
Grantee(s) Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd.
Lease 1 (building site)
Area 5.9 acres (2.4 hectares)
Resource Minimal disturbance building site following environmental principles
Dates/duration 33 yrs from 1993
Fee/price $4,874/yr + fees, licenses, and taxes on commercial operations
Location Chumbe Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Use 7 bungalows and visitors' center for environmental education
Grantor(s) Zanzibar Ministry of Lands and Environment 
Grantee(s) Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd.

Lessons Learned

Fringing reef at Chumbe Island. Provided by Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd.

  • Private management of a marine protected area can be effective and economically viable, even in a challenging political climate.
  • The park has benefited local communities by generating income, employment, market for local produce, developing new work skills, demonstrating sustainable resource management, and restocking commercial fish species in adjacent areas (spill-over).
  • Extensive work with government agencies in establishing the park has enhanced the understanding of environmental issues among local and national authorities.
  • Private management has strong incentives to achieve tangible conservation goals on the ground, co-operate with local resource users, generate income, be cost-effective and keep overheads down.
  • Long-term secure tenure, together with a favorable political, legal and institutional environment, would be needed to attract more private conservation investment in the developing world.
  • Ambiguous regulations and wide discretionary powers of civil servants in the area of land leases, building permits, business licenses, immigration and labor laws encourage corruption, and are thus hurdles to doing business, by drastically delaying developments and increasing costs.
  • Investment in conservation and in environmentally sound technologies, as well as the employment of additional staff for park management and environmental education programs, raises costs considerably, making it more difficult to compete with other tourist destinations. Favorable tax treatment could encourage such investments, but is not granted in Tanzania.
  • To avoid user conflicts, it is easier to preserve a resource that is not being used to a major extent for subsistence or other economic endeavors by local communities.

Cost Summary

Activity Cost
Start-up $1.2 million
Management $150,000 to $200,000 per year
Education/conservation approximately 1/3 of yearly mgmt. costs
Total (as of 2007) approximately $2.5 million

Funding Sources

Two thirds of start-up and development costs were funded by the project initiator and main investor Sibylle Riedmiller; one third by a variety of small donors for con-commercial components (i.e., baseline surveys, visitor center, ranger training, nature trails, education program).

Commercial operations opened in 1998. Management costs of the island have been fully funded from the proceeds of ecotourism since 2001 (a minimum occupancy rate of 30-40% is required for this to occur).

Volunteers have helped with a wide range of tasks, such as conducting baseline surveys and developing monitoring systems; training local fishermen as park rangers in marine science, English language and guidance skills; training hospitality staff; designing nature trails and educational materials; and installing photovoltaic equipment.

Several donor agencies have supported specific projects:

Educational program funders include:

Lead Organization

Chumbe Island Coral Park, Inc.
Sibylle Riedmiller, Project Director
P.O. Box 3203
Tel: +255-027-2643557


Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam
P.O. Box 668
Tel: +255 51 3074

Zanzibar Revolutionary Government
Departments of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries

Authorizing Agencies

Zanzibar Revolutionary Government
Commission for Lands and Environment (lease authorization)
Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency (investment approval)
Zanzibar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources (conservation area establishment and regulation)



  • Carter, E. 2003. Eco-tourism and Secondary School Students. In Managing Educational Tourism, ed. B. Richie. Channel View Publications, UK.
  • Carter, E. 2002. Private Sector management of Marine Protected Areas. In Proceedings of The First Egyptian-International Conference on Protected Areas and Sustainable Development, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. EEAA.
  • Carter, E. 2002. Financing a Marine Protected Area in Tanzania through Ecotourism. In Proceedings of the Ecotourism Symposium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. NCWCD, SCT.
  • Carter, E. 2002. Community Involvement and Community Based Ecotourism. In Proceedings of The International Year of Ecotourism East African Regional Conference, Nairobi, Kenya. UNEP, CI.
  • Carter, E. and F. Marty. 2002. Marketing of a Private Conservation Project. In Co-operating for Sustainable Tourism, ed. Rauschelbach, B., A. Schafer, and B. Steck. Kasparek Verlag, GTZ.
  • Carter, E. and S. Riedmiller. 2001. Ecotourism in a Private Marine Protected Area. In Proceedings of the INDO-DC International Workshop on Policy Options for the Sustainable Use of Coral Reefs and Associated Eco-systems, ed. Wittmer, H and Z.L. Hassan,  Mombassa, Kenya. ACP-EU Fisheries Research Report no.10.
  • Carter, E. and S. Riedmiller. 2001. The Political Challenge of Private Sector Management of Marine Protected Areas. In Proceedings of the INDO-DC International Workshop on Policy Options for the Sustainable Use of Coral Reefs and Associated Eco-systems, ed.Wittmer, H. and Z.L. Hassan, Mombassa, Kenya. ACP-EU Fisheries Research Report no.10.
  • Carter, E., O. Nyange, and Y. Said. 1997. Management Experiences of the Chumbe Reef Sanctuary 1992-1996. In Proceedings of the International Year of the Reef conference, Zanzibar, December 1997. UN.
  • Riedmiller, S. 2003. Private Sector Investment in Marine Conservation: What Can Make it Happen? Experiences of Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. Paper presented at Vth World Parks Congress: Sustainable Finance Stream, Durban, South Africa. (download pdf, 157k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 2003. Private Sector Investment in Marine Conservation: What Can Make it Happen? Experiences of Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. Paper presented at Second International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS2), April 24-29, Manila, Philippines. (download pdf, 219k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 2003. Co-author, Tools and Strategies for Financial Sustainability: How Managers Are Building Secure Futures for Their MPAs. MPA News: International News and Analysis on Marine Protected Areas 5(5) November. University of Washington. (download pdf, 103k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 2002. Co-author, Stretching Your MPA Budget: How To Do More with less Funding. MPA News: International News and Analysis on Marine Protected Areas 3(9) April. University of Washington. (download pdf, 61k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 2001. Co-author, Creating Self-Financing Mechanisms for MPAs: Three Cases, MPA News: International News and Analysis on Marine Protected Areas 2(8) March. University of Washington. (download pdf, 68k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 2001. Private Sector Management of Marine Protected Areas - The Chumbe Island Coral Park Project in Zanzibar, Tanzania. In Proceedings of the International Coral Reef Initiative Regional Workshop for the Indian Ocean. Maputo, Mozambique. (download pdf, 149k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 2000. The Chumbe Island Coral Park Project in Zanzibar/Tanzania, A Private Marine Conservation Project. In Collected Essays on the Economics of Coral Reefs, ed. H. Cesar. CORDIO Stockholm/Sweden. (download pdf, 2,122k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 2000. A Private Marine Protected Area: Chumbe Island Coral Park of Zanzibar. In Coral Reefs of the Indian Ocean, ed. T. McClanahan. Oxford University Press.
  • Riedmiller, S. 1999. The Chumbe Island Coral Park: A Private Marine Conservation Project. InterCoast Network: International Newsletter of Coastal Management, spring. Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, USA.
  • Riedmiller, S. 1998. The Chumbe Island Coral Park Project: Management Experiences of a Private Marine Conservation Project. Paper presented at the ICRI-International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium, November 23-26, Townsville, Australia. (download pdf, 108k)
  • Riedmiller, S. 1998. The Chumbe Island Coral Park Project: A Case Study of Private Management of a Marine Protected Area. Paper presented at IUCN-Regional Workshop on Marine Protected Areas, Tourism and Communities, May 11-13, Mombassa, Kenya.

See also

Biodiversity Conservation and Eco-Tourism (Chumbe Island, Tanzania), UNESCO Environment and development in coastal regions and small islands. This web site contains links to videos, papers, discussion threads, and other resources on Chumbe from 2000-2001.

Return to Top


Site Map

Translate This Page

Marine Conservation Agreements     Copyright © 2007-2014 The Nature Conservancy