Mufindi Forest Conservation Project
Participatory Forest Management
Conserving a forest archipelago
The Mufindi landscape is one of the most fragmented landscapes in the Eastern Arc Mountains. An archipelago of forest islands is surrounded by a sea of tea and subsistence agriculture. Pressure on the remaining forests is extremely high.
Until the mid-1990s many of these forests were being gradually cleared. Forests such as Lulanda and Lugoda-Lutali would probably have been cleared by now had it not been for TFCG’s intervention.
In 1993, TFCG began to work with the communities and the District Council to conserve the Lulanda and Lugoda-Lutali forests. The two forests are now actively managed by the surrounding communities and have management plans, by laws and clearly marked boundaries. Since Mufindi District Council signed the joint management agreements in January 2008, these two forests are now two of the very few forests in Tanzania for which communities have full legal rights to manage the forests jointly with government.
With support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund between 2006 and 2008, TFCG have also helped three Mufindi forests to be protected as Village Forest Reserves.
The forests of Mufindi contain many unique species (including a newly discovered primate species). Lulanda is home to a strictly endemic species of coffee, Coffea mufindiensis which has only been recorded from Lulanda.
TFCG’s focus in Mufindi has been on participatory forest management for 14 forest patches covering 700 ha, working with eight villages. The project has also been working with communities to increase household incomes through activities such as improved agriculture, fish farming, fuel efficient stoves, microfinance and beekeeping.
In addition TFCG has been reforesting two areas of land that act as corridors between forest fragments. Through enrichment planting and fire protection, the forest is returning.
History of Lulanda
Of the six forests that TFCG is working with the history of Lulanda has been the most thoroughly documented. In the late 19th Century Lulanda was a continuous forest area. The local Hehe tribe revered parts of the forest for their spiritual values. Only the leaders were allowed into these areas which were called ‘Pakane’ of ‘Pa mutwa’ – ‘for leaders only’ (Woodcock 1998). One of these areas is known as Fufu. Tradition has it that Chief Mkwawa, the leader of the Hehe tribe used to rest beside one of the large trees in this forest on his way back from war or while planning his next attack. No-one else was permitted to rest in the shade of this tree.
In the 1940s under the British Administration people living inside and adjacent to the forest were moved to other areas. The boundaries were demarcated. In the 1950s there was a reversal of policy and the British Administration encouraged people to return to the forest to cultivate coffee (Woodcock 2002). This began the fragmentation of the forest. By the late 1950s three distinct forest fragments remained. In 1974 with Ujamaa, a Forest Attendant was assigned to the village. He accelerated the process of fragmentation by illegally authorising pitsawing of the forest’s timber.
In the early 1990s a number of biologists visited the forest including the botanist Jon Lovett and the lepidopterist Colin Congdon. They found the forest reduced to the three patches of Fufu, Magwilwa and Ihili and that people were beginning to encroach on the forest edges collecting wood products. The forest was under the authority of the District however the District Forest Officer had not visited in over 12 years due to a lack of funds and transport.
The biologists who visited Lulanda brought its plight to the attention of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group with a request to prevent further forest loss. In 1993 TFCG began demarcating the new forest boundaries, planting the boundaries making and maintaining fire lines and planting a forest corridor to re-connect the forest fragments. TFCG also supported environmental education, community development and the establishment of wood lots.
Of the six forests that TFCG is working with Lulanda is the most important in terms of biodiversity. For its small size Lulanda has a high diversity of canopy trees. The forest is montane forest with a canopy dominated by Parinari excelsa. Other common canopy species include Bersama abyssinica, Rauvolfia caffra, Albizia gummifera, Prunus africana and Millettia oblata. Overall TFCG have recorded a total of 254 species of tree, shrub and herb from 66 families in and around the Lulanda Forest.
Species with restricted ranges which are found in Lulanda include Coffea lulandoensis, Coffea mufindiensis, Psychotria megalopus, Trichilia lovetii and Zimmermaniopsis uzungwae.
Some of the interesting animals that have been recorded in the forest include the Mozambique galago (Galagoides granti), the horned bush-viper (Atheris ceratophorus) and the Keith’s creeping frog (Phlyctimantis keithae).
TFCG continues to support biological research in the forest. In 2006 a joint TFCG / Trento Museum of Natural History team visited Lulanda to assess the vertebrate diversity with funding from CEPF (Mufindi Biodiversity Report - pdf 2.4MB). In 2002, a team from Newcastle University visited the forest to assess its biodiversity (Lulanda 2002 Field Report - pdf 879KB). Other biologists who have visited the forest include Andrew Perkin for his doctoral study on galagos, Colin Congdon to record the forest’s butterflies and Jon Lovett for his study of the vegetation. .
TFCG’s Conservation Activities
TFCG has assisted six communities to develop management strategies for their forests in collaboration with the District. Each village has elected a Village Environmental Committee charged with the responsibility to manage the forest. These teams have identified, mapped and planted the boundaries of their forests in consultation with those living around it. The committees then drafted management plans describing the forest and specifying how the forest can and can not be used. These plans are now being implemented and monitored.
Since 1993 TFCG has been providing regular lessons at the local primary schools. Through seminars and forest walks TFCG also reach the adult population.
Many people in these communities rely on wood for fuel, building materials and furniture. TFCG has been working with farmers to encourage them to plant their own supplies of wood. Popular species have included pine and eucalyptus.
In Lulanda the project has reforested a corridor of land in order to link two forest patches which had been fragmented in the 1970s. Over 400,000 trees have been planted. In Luhunga the project has supported the planting of a ‘millennium forest’ where over 10,000 trees have been planted.
Lovett, J. and T. Pocs 1992. Catchment Forest Reserves of Iringa Region: a botanical appraisal. Catchment Forestry, Forest and Beekeeping Division, Dar es Salaam.
Doody, K. An assessment of a reforestation programme in the Southern Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. TFCG Technical Paper 3.
Woodcock, K. A. 1998. Changing roles in natural forest management: a case study from the Udzungwa Mountains. Journal of East African Natural History 87: 349 – 357.
Woodcock, K. A. 2002. Changing roles in natural forest management: stakeholders roles in the Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania. Ashgate studies in environmental policy and practice.
© 2008 Tanzania Forest Conservation Group