- Published on Saturday, 21 July 2012 00:40
- Written by BILHAM KIMATI
- Hits: 781
YEARS of systematic deforestation has reduced the famous Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserve in Kisarawe District, Coast region, to shrubs.
In response to this reality, the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, has ordered that security operations be heightened in the area to prevent further destruction of the land, which was gazetted in 1954. Speaking on Thursday at the end of his visit to the Forest Reserve, Mr Nyalandu warned against indiscriminate land grabbing, as some of the perpetrators have targeted forest reserves, wildlife habitats and open spaces designed for different purposes.
“The larger part of 4,820 hectares of Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserve has been reduced to thickets. Worse still, incidents fire, which are deliberately started, call for an intensification of patrol services by forest guards and game rangers. Security must be improved with immediate effect,” the Deputy Minister ordered.
He also said that the Government does not intend to act tough against local offenders, who cross into the area accidentally. However, it is important to strike a balance on sustainable conservation of the environment, forests and natural resources on one hand, as well as the well being of present and future generations.
The Deputy Minister was referring to different occasions reported in the area, whereby, out of sheer arrogance some individuals pushed boundaries of the surveyed land, irrespective of the supporting documents found in public offices. “Since there has been no alteration of the 1954 demarcated boundaries of the Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserve, the borders will remain unchanged as indicated in the Government Notice (GN) Number 306 of September 9, 1954,” Mr Nyalandu insisted.
As for ongoing efforts to sort-out the much spoken of “Kazimzumbwi controversy” with officials in the Land division and those in the Natural Resources locking horns, Mr Nyalandu said the Prime Minister’s Office was working on coordination efforts to have officials from both sides meet for the purpose.
In connection to the disagreement, the National Director of Survey and Photogrammetric Mapping has nullified the illegal ownership of 303 plots, which were wrongly surveyed inside the boundaries of the Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserve in 2009. In a letter addressed to the Ilala Land Survey Office and dated September 8, 2012, with Reference Number 186/III/14/207 and signed by Samuel Katambi, on behalf of the National Director of Land Mapping, it was ordered that all wrongly placed beacons should be removed from the forest reserve at once.
The letter further revealed that the company contracted to carry out the survey, namely Nyolu Land Consult Limited, was issued with a temporary suspension in addition to a notice of reprimand and addressed to the Ilala Municipal Land division, to employ professionalism when issuing survey instructions, which should be preceded by data search obligation.
Of late, twelve suspects have been arrested and accused of starting fires in the forest reserve with the intension of discouraging regeneration of the forest cover. This is to deliberately change the borders for the establishment of illegal settlements.
The Forest Manager, Matthew Mwanuo, said relations with residents in neighbouring villages of Nzasa, Kimwani, Nyeburu and Maguruwe, have improved under a community participatory approach, as the majority of the inhabitants were willing to help conserve the forest reserve.
An elderly man, Ramadhani Said, who lives within the area said that he has witnessed frequent invasion into the forest by people he suspected to be outsiders, who he believed were perhaps hired to sabotage conservation efforts. He assured the Deputy Minister of people’s commitment to preserve the forest but made one special request: “Kindly allow us (villagers) to carry out small scale cultivation on the fringes of the reserve, whilst at the same time plant trees to prop up biodiversity,” Mr Said asked.
Responding to the request, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) Agency, Juma Mgoo, said the idea was good but it is only that it was applicable at places where the forest cover was not meant for protection of water sources or other natural features.
“It is true that cultivation between growing trees has proved successful in Rongai Forests in West Kilimanjaro, where the grown wood is basically for timber. However, controlled cultivation on the fringes of the forest, is possible,” Mr Mgoo said. From the web we learn that Tanzania has about 33.5 million hectares of forests and woodlands.
Out of this total area, almost two thirds consists of woodlands on general lands, which need proper management. About 13 million hectares of this total forest area have been gazetted as Forest Reserves. Over 80,000 hectares of the gazetted area are under plantation forestry and about 1.6 million hectares are under water catchment management.
The area covered by coastal forests is about 70,000 hectares only. Coastal Forests are usually rich in endemic tree species, but only scattered remnants are left of the original forests.