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obvious, part of the tourism resource base. When planning the sustainable development of Xai- Xai Beach, the natural, cultural and heritage related resources need to be taken into consideration.

Limpopo Mouth Coastal and Marine Resource Reserve

The nature of development envisaged at Xai-Xai Beach, i.e. high impact coastal resort development combined with the slash and burn agricultural methods practised by the surrounding communities, requires intensified environmental protection methods to be implemented in the area.

The ICAM Strategy recommended that the coastal dune belt, as well as the Baixos de Inhampura Reef be managed according to IUCN Category IV procedures. This implies the continued, yet sustainable utilisation of the natural resources in these areas under the supervision of MICOA. However, due to the impoverished state of the surrounding communities, coastal resources are being depleted at a rapid rate as a result of subsistence practices. It is impossible to implement sustainable utilisation principles if communities are uneducated regarding these principles, and have no other source of livelihood than the resources at hand. In addition, neither the infrastructure nor the capacity is in place to effectively protect the coastal environment against the impact of rapidly growing tourism activities such as fishing, spear-fishing, the removal of oysters and other shellfish and the insensitive use of 4x4 vehicles.

In light of the above it is recommended that a Coastal and Marine Resource Reserve be implemented in the area between the Limpopo Mouth and Xai-Xai Beach. Surrounding communities could benefit from such a reserve through the planned and strictly controlled harvesting of selected species.

Successful implementation of such a Coastal and Marine Resource Reserve, which should ideally include the sensitive Limpopo estuary, the Baixos de Inhampura Reef and the turtle breeding grounds along the coast parallel to the reef, is crucial to the long-term protection of the environmental integrity of the area. From this core protected area sustainable utilisation principles could slowly be cultivated through a prolonged capacity building process. If no such measure is implemented, the area could quickly be damaged to an irreparable extent, which would not only damage tourism prospects but also the economic future of the local community.

Building Codes – Sense of Place

One of the strongest environmental components contributing to defining Xai-Xai Beach’s sense of place is its built environment. In the sense that it is a resort town, the buildings of Xai-Xai Beach will be second only to beaches in defining the environment. Xai-Xai Beach’s very unique vernacular blend of Mozambican architecture with art deco influences is a heritage asset to be preserved at all cost.

With the influx of South African investments into Xai-Xai Beach, a very real threat of “South Africanisation” exists. Insensitive investors, to the long-term detriment of Xai-Xai Beach and their own investments, will instinctively want to follow the formula applied in “successful” South African resort towns. This, if not checked, will lead to Xai-Xai Beach shedding its own unique identity as a Mozambican resort town and losing its sense of place. A visitor entering Xai-Xai Beach might then just as well be entering a South African resort town – there will be nothing unique differentiating Xai-Xai Beach.

A proven method used to protect, or often even to create, a sense of place in a built environment is the implementation of building codes prescribing certain differentiating architectural guidelines. In our post modern era, developers are successfully using building codes as a tool to differentiate upmarket developments such as golfing estates exclusive residential areas and even resorts of various types. Building codes, if sensitively implemented, is never viewed as an unwanted hindrance by developers, rather it is perceived as adding value to investments due to the creation of exclusivity.


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