Conserving a forest mosaic
The West Usambara Mountain forests extend over 32,000 ha between an altitude of 400 - 2290 m in North East Tanzania. The forests are home to five vertebrate species found nowhere else in the world including the Endangered Usambara akalat and the frog Nectophrynoides vestergaardi. The West Usambara landscape is a mosaic of forest, tea plantation, horticulture and subsistence agriculture. Pressure on the forest is high and at least 10 % of the forest was cleared between 1970 and 2000.
By working closely with the local communities, tea estates and local government, TFCG has succeeded in significantly reducing illegal logging and forest clearance in key forests such as Ambangulu, Sagara and Kisima Gonja. TFCG has also assisted 12 communities to develop village forest reserves thereby preventing important forests on village land from being cleared for agriculture and protecting water sources crucial to many community members.
More sustainable lifestyles
As well as ensuring better forest management, TFCG has helped to reduce dependence on illegal harvesting in the forest reserves. This has included promoting fuel efficient stoves to reduce demand for fuel wood as well as widespread tree planting with approximately half a million trees being planted with support from TFCG every year. These trees provide fuel wood, building materials and a cash income to farmers.
New Generation Watershed Management project
Since 2008, TFCG has been working in partnership with Gorta to reduce poverty amongst people living in rural communities in the West Usambara Mountains and to enhance the benefits to rural communities from ecosystem services. In addition to supporting improved forest management, TFCG have been working with 21 West Usambara communities to establish integrated water resources managment and to improve access to clean, reliable water supplies through training, awareness raising, establishing water user groups and improving the water delivery infrastructure. The West Usambara TFCG team have also been promoting conservation agriculture in these 21 villages as well as promoting honey production.
In 2013, TFCG launched the New Generation Watershed Management project with funding from Gorta. The project aims to ensure the long-term sustainability of ecosystem services for women, men and children living in rural communities adjacent to high biodiversity forests. By sharing experiences on watershed management with other watershed management initiatives in Africa, the project aims to identify best practices that can be applied elsewhere in the Eastern Arc Mountains and Tanzania.