Assessing and Restoring Biodiversity in Tanzania’s Forests: The Case of Magombera

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Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th TAWIRI Scientific Conference
DatePublished - 2008
Pages45-85
Number of pages41
Place of PublicationArusha, Tanzania
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

As in much of the tropics, most of the forest in Tanzania is heavily degraded. Forest degradation and loss has implications for species loss, climate change, hydrology, nutrient cycling and natural resources. Magombera forest is a threatened area of tropical lowland forest, long recognised for its biodiversity value. The aim of this paper is to synthesise results of ecological surveys presented in a recent report for the WWF Tanzania Programme Office, to provide impetus for the improved management of Magombera forest. An integrative conservation and monitoring strategy is also introduced that may be applicable across Tanzania for improving conservation management. From the literature and surveys presented, the biodiversity value of Magombera forest is highlighted. The large trees include 17 IUCN Red-List or potential Red-List species and 10 species limited to the forests of East Africa. An astounding 41.2 % of stems ¿ 20 cm diameter are within these two categories. The results also found the highest encounter rate of Udzungwa red colobus anywhere. The forest is also an important dry season refuge for elephants and is one of only two known localities of the chameleon Kinyongia sp. nov. (soon to be named after Magombera forest). Despite its conservation importance, our survey found a number of threats. The structure is typical of a forest that has undergone understorey disturbance and pole-cutting has affected the rare species composition. The mammal community has been notably impacted by hunting and there are very few medium-sized terrestrial mammals. The Udzungwa red colobus is the most vulnerable monkey to structural damage. From our surveys we suggest that the threats to Magombera forest should be prioritised as follows: 1) Pole cutting; 2) Bushfire; 3) Firewood collection; 4) Timber felling, 5) Hunting. In summary, Magombera provides an excellent opportunity for Tanzania to demonstrate its ability to manage an area of high conservation value. There are many recommendations for improving village livelihoods, protection of the forest and monitoring. Following presentation of these findings at the TAWIRI conference, project recommendations were presented to local villages. All villages made signed agreements to the proposals, including annexation into the Selous Game Reserve.

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