Conservation work in the Amani Nature Reserve area, Tanzania

Conservation work in the Amani Nature Reserve area of the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania.

The Eastern Arc Mountains are a series of mountains skirting the coastal region of Tanzania with a tiny extension into south-eastern Kenya. This mountain range is renowned for its biodiversity and high levels of endemism, and as a result, is often described as the “Galapagos Islands of Africa.” Within this range lie the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, where the 6000-hectare Amani Nature Reserve has given these threatened cloud forests stronger protected status. Yet the establishment of a reserve is not the end of the story, and much work remains to be done. Since the forest is surrounded by local human populations which utilize forest resources for sustenance, it is critical that these communities support conservation efforts. RCF Adviser Dr. Norbert Cordeiro and his colleague Dr. Henry Ndangalasi (University of Dar es Salaam) were engaged in a conservation project in this area, and RCF treasurer Dr. Jonathan Green approached Dr. Cordeiro about possible RCF support for their project in this highly endangered rainforest. The major conservation work involves planting native tree species of high ecological and economic value (timber, edible and medicinal plants, spices) in degraded forests and fallow areas in and around the Amani Nature Reserve. RCF began supporting this project in February 2010.

The Amani Nature reserve and a villager in a seedling mursery

Key to this forest enrichment and conservation effort is (1) community participation in the planting and maintenance of the trees, (2) the maintenance of a seedling nursery and (3) the production of a laminated Swahili-English seedling guide of forest trees available for multiple users in Tanzania that integrates science with the knowledge of local human communities. To date, RCF has provided $5000 to this project, with another $12,000 needed for 2011.

Local participants and seedling production