Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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Shume Magamba

United Republic of Tanzania
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Shume Magamba forest reserve is located in the West Usambara Mountains. It is one of the thirteen blocks forming the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya, along the Albertine Rift. It is comprised of 12 000 ha of moist montane forest, which is a gazetted forest reserve, with 2 500 ha under exotic plantation. The Eastern Arc is one of the most biologically rich regions in the world, with a large number of endemic animal and plant species. It is regarded as one of the world's top 25 global biodiversity hotspots and is increasingly being managed for biodiversity conservation.

The forest is threatened by timber harvesting (pit sawing) and agricultural encroachment. Part of the Shume-Magamba Forest on the West Usambara Mountains was degazetted from a Forest Reserve soon after independence in 1961 and was then converted to agriculture by land-hungry residents. Other major threats to the forests in the West Usambaras include fire spreading from surrounding farmlands and gold mining. In the former case, the enhanced burning regime is believed to have been the main cause of the replacement of Afromontane forests with grassland and scrub-grassland across large areas.

The sharp boundaries at the edges of the forest indicate areas where forest has been converted to farmland. The 2005 image shows these boundaries pushing further into the forest in several places. The high resolution image (see photos panel below) shows detail of the area highlighted by the yellow box in the above images. In addition to crops, areas of forest plantation are displacing natural forest. Areas of trees with parallel lines cut through them are generally tree farms.

Tanzania had the sixth largest annual net loss in forest area between 2000 and 2005 in the world of about 412 000 ha/yr; second largest in Africa after Zambia. In total, between 1990 and 2005, United Republic of Tanzania lost 14.9 per cent of its forest cover. Currently, 39.9 per cent of the country is forested. Apparently, a number of mountains have lost at least 80 per cent of their original forest cover, including Taita, Ukaguru, Mahenge, and West Usambara.

The energy economy in Tanzania is largely focused on collecting, distributing, and consuming wood fuels (wood and charcoal) to satisfy household demands for cooking. As much as 90 per cent of all primary energy consumed in Tanzania is biomass based. View detailed information

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