Pugu Friends

Urgently wanted New Generation of Tanzanian Conservationists

 

The tradition of conservation of nature in Tanzania was based on ethnic and spiritual beliefs or traditional mechanisms depending on the way you look at it.

Spring catchments were protected, though the outcome may have been clean water, the motivation was more spiritual than public health oriented. Forest spirits were not disturbed by logging.

Forests were obviously not only surviving because of traditional beliefs but also as a result of the population numbers and available technology which were no match for the reproduction capacity of biomass in those days.

How long can the spirits last_reduced

 

The urbanisation and mobility, the successful introduction of Kiswahili as national language and investments in development projects all contributed to the gradual erosion of traditions and cultures beliefs and their traditional mechanisms for securing the national resources. Currently the growing pressure on forest resources have by now eroded the effectiveness of conservation laws of the country, which started in some way or an other by the colonial rulers decades back. Joint Forest Management is the latest strategy to redirect the unsustainable exploitation of forest resources in Tanzania towards a sustainable one.

The conservation strategies and interventions in Tanzania are in essence Rural Development strategies, while Tanzania was a rural society to some two decades back. Destruction of the Pugu Forest has become an Urban Issue. Although some patches of rural communities still exist around these forests, communities like in Pugu Kajiungeni, Pugu Stesheni, Chanika, Mbuyuni, Kisarawe, Kipawe, Tazara, Kigogo Fresh and new settlements stretching gradually southwards along the Kazimzumbwi Forest, are not any longer different from urban communities closer to the City Centre. The mode of cooperation between the Government and NGOs involved in forest conservation and the surrounding communities around Pugu Forest is based on the predominantly "rural" approach relevant in a rural setting. The "rural" approach may be out of place in the case of the forests around Dar es Salaam. Here we are dealing with middle class families, businessmen and women, government officials. The 20 to 50? community members who are involved in clearing of the Pugu Forests are however mostly unskilled youth with some eldery who did not find opportunity to generate income in the new urbanised Pugu villages.

This "rural" oriented approach may also affect the REDD pilot project. With the frontier of urban dar es salaam gradually pushing the peri-urban settlements beyond the Pugu Forest transforming these forests in urban green zones. The target community to be involved in the conservation of Pugu Forest becomes more middle class and less rural, and considering their different interests, education and professional occupations, these "local" community members require a different approach. First of all the strategy should be aiming at conservation rather than joint management and exploitation. Urban middle class will has no time to spend time on forest management nor production of charcoal.

And that is where we come to the title of this article, it is time to involve the new generation urban middle class of Dar es Salaam rather than focusing on the communities around the Forest. Pugu Hills and Pugu Forest is a good rallying point for Nature Conservation in Tanzania because of the following reasons: birdwatcher_1

 

1. It is close to the major centre of education and policy making in Tanzania (23 km from askari monument)

2. It is relatively easy to protect compared to for instance the Marine Reserves along the shores of Dar es Salaam

3. Although Tanzania has more impressive and globally recognised nature treasures than Pugu Hills, it is the Pugu Forest's proximity and affordability which make Pugu Forest score higher than Serengeti as a rallying point for conservation. Serengeti will be out of reach for most city dwellers and possibly never to be visited by the majority of the City population.

4. Even if the present Pugu Forest will be cleared to the last bush, it will remain a Forest Reserve (like Pande Forest Reserve) and even after some decades still be able to recover as a (tertiary?) Forest

Concluding, we do have time to build up our present group of Friends of Pugu into a growing permanent lobby, worried about Tanzania of tomorrow, for the children of today and tomorrow.

Please become a friend and look for more friends, todays rains (December 20th, 2011) show that the spirits are on our side.

For registration follow link, in case of problems just use the booking form (without actually having to book for the Centre)