80pc of ‘eastern arc’ forests lost
This is according to ‘WWF Living Forests Report 2015—Saving Forests at Risk’ recently released. Lucas Liganga a Tanzania Senior Journalist brought up this news story from the report plus follow up interviews conducted with some Forest conservationist in the country starting with WWF’s.
“The implication of losing such huge hectares of forests will be massive,” said Mr. Geofrey Mwanjela, WWF Terrestrial Programme Coordinator for Coastal East Africa Global Initiative.
“As the report points out, with only 500,000 hectares of forests remaining; the pressure from unsustainable agriculture, unsustainable timber harvesting and uncontrolled fires will continue to pose challenges to what’s remaining within Eastern Arc” said Mr. Mwanjela.
The Eastern Arc Mountains Endowment Fund (EAMCEF) Executive Director, Mr. Francis Sabuni, admitted that deforestation was alarming.
However, he said EAMCEF was implementing a five-year (2011-2016) project dubbed, ‘Improving Conservation of the Eastern Arc Mountains Forests of Tanzania’ with funding from the Norwegian government.
Mr. Sabuni was optimistic that the project would help to stop unsustainable harvesting of resources in the mountains. ‘The scheme is also supported by the Government and its development partners, including the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Programme’ said Mr. Sabuni.
“Most people living in surrounding rural areas depend heavily on subsistence agriculture and forests for their livelihoods. A growing population is also piling pressure on nature,” said the EAMCEF boss.
The report points out that the Coastal Forests of Tanzania have been reduced to 10 per cent of their original area.