The Crossborder biodiversity project
in Bukoba has already made some important steps in slowing the illegal
logging, harvesting and burning within Minziro Forest Reserve. The formation
of Village Environmental Committees will help in conservation planning, and by
including stakeholders, make for a stronger and more sustainable overall
planning result. Some of the main problems within the reserve are indicated
and are similar to those observed throughout Tanzania as well as other
· Agricultural encroachment is present only in certain areas, this is due mainly to the suitability of soil types and water logging, which makes the land unsuitable for most crops. Solving the agriculture problem is only possible with knowledge of the exact forest reserve boundary. This combined with joint enforcement by forest division and appointed community ‘teams’ would go some way to controlling the encroachment problem.
harvesting of mainly Podocarpus.
The results of a recent survey by the forestry and bee-keeping division
indicate that both legal and illegal harvesting in the reserve should be
stopped. It was found that the remaining Podocarpus
are small to medium sizes, and not recommended for harvesting (Tassen, 2000).
Based on this report, only a blanket ban on off-take would be enforceable by
the regulatory agencies.
It is important to note that what we are seeing here is not clear-felling but
a slow and damaging degradation of the forest ecosystem.
of grassland for cattle grazing may represent
the greatest threat to Blue Swallow habitat. Pamba (1999) states that at least
5,000 head of cattle are grazed in the reserve every year. The effects of this
on localised soil erosion and habitat damage is unknown. However the damage
caused by the cattle herders who start grass fires to promote new growth is
quantifiable, but has yet to be assessed. Having observed these fires, it is
clear they are not controlled and in a dry year could represent a serious
threat to the forest and agricultural land, destroying the local economy.
Paradoxically, we are unsure whether the grassland within the reserve is
actually maintained by ‘natural’ or man-made fires.
production is a common problem and not easy to
control when no alternatives are provided to the communities in question.
Planting trees for fuelwood, combined with the use of energy efficient stoves
may go at least some way to reducing wood and charcoal consumption.
The Baikiaea-Podocarpus seasonal swamp forests of Minziro are important to the overall avian biodiversity of Tanzania. The grassland habitat within the reserve and the papyrus, which fringes the Kagera River are also important globally as a bird habitat. Following this study, the ringing site at Minziro, which was first established in 1987, is the longest running mist-netting site within the Guinea-Congo Biome (As well as one of the longest worked ringing sites in Tanzania). The data provided and outlined in this document has added considerably to what was previously known about the birds of this forest.
In line with forest policy, the status of existing forest reserves with high biodiversity values should be upgraded to nature reserves to ensure their protection in perpetuity (National Forest Policy, 1998). Minziro exhibits many of the characteristics defined by this statement. Therefore, in line with national forest policy, it is recommended that Minziro be upgraded from forest reserve to nature reserve, acknowledging its biological and genetic importance to Tanzania.
Sunbird Anthreptes axillaris.