The Udzungwa Forest Project (UFP) is a conservation project based in southern Tanzania. The aim of the project is to better protect tropical forests through ecological monitoring, community education, capacity building and lobbying. UFP is based mostly in the Magombera forest, on to the east side of the breathtaking Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania.
The main emphasis of UFP is on the monitoring and management of indicators of forest conservation and the sustainability of human natural resource use. Education and capacity building in local villages is central to this, as many of the local people were previously unaware of the value of forests for water and biodiversity prior to commencement of the project.
Practical activities of the project include assistance for villages in natural resource acquisition. The biggest current threats to the forest are cutting of small trees for poles and the gathering of firewood, hence most emphasis is placed on tree-planting and finding alternative sources of fuel. The forest is also routinely monitored for threats, wildlife populations and tree biodiversity/structure.
Outreach to the general public in both Tanzania and the UK (through CIRCLE) has included classroom teaching, film, newspaper articles, internet and a pedal-powered cinema. A large number of peer-reviewed scientific publications have been produced.
The project’s mostly-Tanzanian team ensures that the UFP has a strong local connection. This allows the project to integrate fully with the communities and managers. Ultimately the goal is to develop sufficient in-country income generation and capacity among villages and management authorities, such that forest conservation can continue without external support.
UFP was awarded Best Field Conservation Project by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria. There were a number of notable successes that led to this award:
1) Over 4,000 Tanzanian children have been reached by education activities.
2) An estimated 10,000 villagers are now aware of fuel-efficient methods, with approximately 20% of households using these regularly (this is increasing). Tree nurseries established in four villages.
3) Experimentation with forest restoration methods has seen biodiversity and biomass increase in regenerating trees.
4) More than 3,000 tree seedlings have been donated to villagers for agroforestry.
5) Rangers from nearby reserves and villages assist with forest patrols and human-elephant conflict.
6) The Tanzanian Forestry Division assures us that Magombera forest will be legally protected in the near future.
7) Ecological indicators show that forest remains intact despite the lack of legal protection. Trees and monkeys have shown slow declines but not below targets. A new species of tree was discovered in June 2011.
8) More than twenty-five peer-reviewed journal publications, seven book chapters and one book have been published since 2007. Four postgraduate projects have been facilitated.
9) Villager/conservationist feedback has been extremely positive. Memoranda of Understanding have been drafted with four villages.
UBoC Partnership for Improved Education and Income Generation
In 2013, UFP joined forces with the United Bank of Carbon to improve capacity for its environmental education work in Tanzania and in the UK. The objectives for this work are as follows:
(1) Improving Tanzanian village capacity for forest conservation, income generation, and control of damaging bushfires;
(2) Establishing a handicraft business for sale of items to UK retailers, to improve in areas of forest conservation;
(3) Outreach to UK schools through rainforest education and a competition to name a new species of tree discovered by UFP.
Following completion of this work, UBoC and UFP will continue to seek funding for development of core infrastructure for the work of UFP, in particular the development of a field research/education centre, project vehicle, and development of facilities and information for tourists in and around the focal forest of Magombera.
The project is directed, administered and predominantly funded by Flamingo Land Resort (North Yorkshire, UK), working with the University of York led Collaboration for Integrated Research, Conservation and Learning (CIRCLE). In-country collaborators include the WWF Tanzania Programme Office, Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, Kilombero Sugar Company, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre, and four local villages. We also receive external advice and assistance from academics at the University of Waterloo (Canada), Pennsylvania State University (USA), the Universities of Leeds and Cambridge (UK).
See also Terrific Tropical Trees, Tanzania.