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Efforts to Conserve Tanzanian Rainforests

Joint efforts are needed to rescue forests in Kagera Region following reports that these have been devoured by the timber industry and tree felling to make room for farming.

Biodiversity was lost, flooding and soil erosion became significant issues . Among the ravaged forests includes the Minziro Forest Reserve, 24,841 ha conservation area in Misenyi District. It protects one of the largest forests in Tanzania, of a forest type that is unique in the country.

It was gazetted in 1947 The forest is a continuation of Malabigambo Forest over the nearby Uganda border.The largest part consists of Baikiaea-Podocarpus seasonal swamp forest while the remainder is flooded acacia woodlands.

It is similar to forests found in the Congo and Guinea, and consequently it contains flora and fauna that reach their eastern range limits here. 58 of the 245 bird species recorded in the Reserve are not found outside Kagera in Tanzania, while 56 of these have only been seen in Minziro.

In addition, more than 600 butterfly species are native here, surpassing any other forest in Africa. It was formerly extensively logged for the valuable Podocarpus trees, that are now scarce, with only small specimens remaining. Illegal logging is ongoing.

Jürgen Schmücking

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