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Udzungwa Forest Blog

Joining Up The Forests

Last month saw three key events take place that we hope will help the Udzungwa Forests on their way to recovery...

Friends of UFP Trevor Jones, Francesco Rovero and other colleagues published an article in the journal Tropical Conservation Science, assessing the connectivity between some of the most threatened forest fragments remaining in southern Tanzania. The findings were as bleak as we might expect; the Udzungwa forests are now entirely separated to those to the south and east by tracts of agriculture, with no management plans in place to ensure future connectivity.

So how can we start to bring the forests back? Well, Jen Archer, a BSc student from the University of Leeds, has just begun analysing a set of data that we hope will drive a new initiative in forest management in the Udzungwa area. She is analysing the UFP data on forest restoration, which involves clearing strangling climbers to observe regrowth in forest trees. The preliminary results look very interesting, but we will know more sometime in 2013.

And also there was some further hope for connecting up the Udzungwa forests, from an unusual observation of elephants in Magombera forest. While elephants are common in the forest, one small herd is particularly special as it had trekked 6km through sugar cane from the Udzungwa Mountains! So while the forests are no longer joined up, at least some of the elephants had remembered the way to go. This by no means suggests that the intervening habitat is suitable for safeguarding the viability of the Magombera animals, especially as animals often cause damage to crops, creating conflict with local farmers. However, this is a welcome piece of news during a time when elephants across Tanzania are suffering one of the highest rates of slaughter in recent times.

UFP Tree Seedlings

Other recent highlights saw three villagers put in separate requests for tree seedlings in an attempt to rejuvenate agroforestry in the area. Our "Friendly Fuels" champion Mama Mesroda also continued in her quest to spread the tradition of fuel briquettes across our four villages; and we also formally began our search for a talented Tanzanian to start up a business to train village groups to make trinkets for sale to tourists, and hopefully also to buyers in the UK.

But sadly, the charcoal removal and tree cutting continues in Magombera forest...

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