Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Ngumburuni Forest Reserve is in danger of extinction
Ngumburuni Forest Reserve in Rufiji District, Coast Region is in danger of extinction from escalating deforestation and induced human activities such as farming and settlements in the conservation zone. This was unveiled at a training session for journalists that involving foresters and was spearheaded by the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) under the Mama Misitu Project in collaboration with the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF). Hadija Kitango, Amina Ally and Juma Mkwanywe are among environmental activists who took part in the training, heaping blame on local leaders overseeing the forest reserve, claiming that they were behind encroachment in the forest reserve. “This forest is badly damaged…trees are cut and houses have been built in the forest reserve and those people who invaded the forest reserve claim to have all the blessings from village leaders,” Hadija Kitango complained. “We have made a follow-up, so that we initiate action to remove invaders from the forest but we’ve failed because they were given the permits to settle in the protected forest reserves by village leaders around the forest zone,” she said.
The Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) has been blamed for collecting levies from those making forest products without using a portion of those funds to villages around the place, or invest in their socio-economic development. Another challenge that fueled destruction in the Ngumburuni Forest Reserve is a poor understanding of the Forest Act of 2002, meant to provide for the management of forests, and repealing certain laws relating to forests and for related matters. The facilitator of the training from TNRF, Cassian Siang'a suggested that forest laws be written in simple Kiswahili so that more people become aware of what is provided therein. In recent years, the 5,100 ha forest has been singularly under pressure with massive harvesting of trees, scarred by deep-rutted tyre marks of the vehicles ferrying the logs. The villagers said the logs are ferried at night. Villagers and local leaders say the syndicates operate with the full and tacit backing of some district officials manning the department of forestry, as well as the police. The forest reserve has some rare animals, various tree species suitable for construction and rivers catchment areas now under the threat of drying up.