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Forest Regeneration in Tanzania

Eastern Arc Seedlings and Forest Regeneration

With the exception of tree species in high demand for timber, the early regeneration characteristics of most African forest trees remains poorly understood. Such knowledge of early forest regeneration is of paramount importance for conservation and restoration schemes in rapidly degrading tropical environments like the Eastern Arc Mountains.

The Eastern Arc Mountains are a series of mountains skirting the coastal region of Tanzania with a tiny extension into south-eastern Kenya. This mountain range is renowned for its biodiversity and high levels of endemism, and as a result, is often described as the "Galapagos Islands of Africa." Given extensive forest loss due to large-scale agricultural activities and smaller-scale subsistence farming in these areas in the not too distant past, approximately 50% of the original forest cover has been lost. The remaining forest is under intense pressure from humans, and the government of the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as several organizations, are working to enhance conservation of the biodiversity and water catchment values of the Eastern Arc Mountains.

In the East Usambara Mountains, demarcation of a large portion of forest as Amani Nature Reserve has afforded the biodiversity and forest habitat stronger protected status.   Additionally, the University of Dar es Salaam and other researchers have been both cataloguing the biodiversity, and monitoring how habitat disturbance affects biodiversity. However, as the forest is surrounded by local human populations, who utilize forest resources for sustenance, it is critical that these neighboring communities are not alienated while mitigating potentially negative environmental effects.  Several recently developed projects therefore integrate conservation of biodiversity with human livelihoods (e.g. Amani Butterfly Project, Corridor and Restoration Project: see Conservation Implications).

We anticipate that our research and practical outputs will feed into these and other existing programs that attempt to resolve the apparent conflict of poverty and biodiversity conservation by making science, conservation, and rural communities an integral part of the solution. 

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