Tanzanias forests continue to be decimated

I often get ripped into by individuals from Tanzania, who clearly lack the capacity to understand that exposing transgressions against nature, i.e. poaching inside and outside of the parks, or the massive illegal logging in the forests across the country for timber and to make charcoal, is in the best interest of the country, allowing it to muster resources and build coalitions to stem the tide. Here is an article taken from the Guardian, showing just how bad things have become – maybe in the process shutting up those who need to learn such lessons before speaking of what they know little about.

Corrupt govt officials, firms ravaging forest reserves`
Irate villagers say they’re fighting a losing war
BY GERALD KITABU, 11th March 2013

DEMORALISED Kisarawe and Kibaha district residents and authorities
have forwarded their final appeal to President Jakaya Kikwete to
rescue three key forests in Coast Region which are at the verge of
depletion saying their efforts to protect the greenbelt have failed
due to rampant corruption.
The forests are Kazimzumbwi, Pugu and Ruvu South reserves that are
home to endangered primate and bird species.

Chairman of the Kisarawe District Council, Adam Ng’imba was speaking
during a meeting to present the forest disturbance and biodiversity
survey results to stakeholders conducted by Tanzania Forest
Conservation Group (TFCG) in collaboration with Community Forest
Conservation Network of Tanzania (MJUMITA) at a one-day meeting in
Kisarawe over the weekend.

Attended by more than fifty representatives from village executives,
chairmen, foresters, Tanzania Forest Service (TFS), councilors and
district commissioners, the meeting was told that top government
officials were in cahoots with a syndicate of powerful business
tycoons to mow down the forests. The visibly irked residents, asked
the president to immediately intervene and smoke out the perpetrators
of illegal logging and charcoal production alleging that most of them
are actually within the government.

Ng’imba conceded that executives of the two districts are fighting a
losing battle because even when they do arrest and prosecute the
criminals, they are apparently let scot-free again because the
contention is that they are protected by officials within the very
forest sector of the government.
“…we should not cheat ourselves…we are fighting with people with a
strong network and financial muscles… that’s why when we report these
cases nobody bothers to pay attention…,” he claimed.

A council from the Masaki ward, Kisarawe, Pily Chamnguli alleged that
most big businessmen illegally harvesting forest products are
foreigners and are never arrested, instead, those arrested are small
local traders whose damage to the forest is comparatively negligible.
“…we have lost patience, enough is enough… we need the President to
use his powers to clean up these top officials and their associates…,”
she asserted but also offered no names of the alleged corrupt top

Responding to the participant views, the two District Commissioners,
Fatuma Kimario of Kisarawe and Halima Kihemba of Kibaha welcomed and
supported the President’s intervention, saying that was the only cure
to the menace.

Presenting the research findings conducted over the past two years in
the three forest reserves, Forest Justice in Tanzania project manager
Elinas Monga, Forest condition monitoring and evaluation officer
Justine Gwegime and Assistant project Officer Said Habibu all
concurred that the remote sensing analysis and field surveys indicate
that if the same number of ha of forest are lost each year as were
lost between 2008 and 2010, the forest reserves will be completely
deforested before 2035.

“…it was revealed that Kazimzumbwi will be completely deforested by
the end of 2014, Pugu by 2017 and Ruvu South by 2035…,” they reported.
In June and July 2011, a team from TFCG carried out a 17-day survey
at ten sites in Pugu and Kazimzumbwi forest reserves to determine the
forest condition. The field surveys recorded more cut trees than live
ones in 17 out of 18 one kilometer transects. All transects had at
least a few poles still standing however six transects contained no
live trees save for stumps.

The three forest reserves are also home to one of the most endangered
primate species in the world, the Rondo Galago. A number of threatened
bird species are also found in these forests including the Sokoke
pipit, East coast akalat and the spotted ground thrush. For Dar es
Salaam, the Kisarawe, Pugu and Kazimzumbwi forests are the main water
catchment for the Msimbazi, Kimani, Nzasa and Nyeburu rivers. THE