National Forests Destroyed For Agriculture, Firewood
MAZINGIRA Network of Tanzania (MANET) has called upon the government and other stakeholders to make a joint strategy to restore the destructed 98 percent of the Kazimzumbwi National Forest.
Kazimzumbwi is a national forest reserve in the west of Dar es Salaam at Ilala Municipal in Chanika County which has eight villages in the forest reserve. Addressing the situation to journalists in Dar es Salaam, the MANET Chairperson, Mr. Zubery Mwachulla said the forest has been severely damaged due to human activities.
“The government has to remove the confusion from the minister’s statement that the people of Kazimzumbwi are there legally,” he said.
He said there were contradictory statements between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and Prof Tibaijuka in parliamentary in October 2012, which legalized people to live in the area. He added that, trespassers have destroyed water sources, fell trees, used wood for fuel and burnt the forest for cultivation purposes, disrupting rain patterns around the Kazimzumbwi area.
“The government and other stakeholders have to work closely and see how best the people living there now can be removed to save the forest,” he said.
According to Mr Mwanchulla, MANET needs to know government’s strategies to restore the forest because it is possible to revert it to the way it was in between three and five years.
“We call on the district authorities to engage with other stakeholders to work towards restoration of the parts of the forest that have been badly degraded,” said Mr Mwanchulla.
Mr Rashid Abdalla, a resident at Kazimzumbwi area, however, had different ideas. He said that the areas they have been living in are legally their portion of land since the 1940s and accused MANET of harassment. “Even the government through various ministries are aware of that fact and I have been living here since my childhood.
Why do they want to take our land that we inherited from our forefathers,” he lamented. The Director of Forestry and Beekeeping in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Felician Kilahama, said there has been concerted efforts by officials in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development to secure 200 plots from the reserve.
“Kazimzumbwi was gazetted in 1954 when some of us were still young and many others were not yet born. The colonialists found it a valuable area and decided to put it under legal protection.
We want to see houses within the forest,” he said. Government efforts to secure conservation of Kazimzumbwi forest are supported by the government of Norway through the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST).
WCST is operating as a government partner in ensuring that Kazimzumbwi is well restored and managed for the benefit of Tanzanians and global communities as far as climate change is concerned.