Pugu Hills Nature Centre Closed
Last opportunity to save Pugu Forest
The Norwegian Government assists the Ministry of Natural Resources in what can be considered as the "last ditch" opportunity to save the Pugu Forest and its neighboring Kazimzumbwi Forest from complete destruction.
As component of the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) intervention in Tanzania the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST) together with the FBD (Forestry and Beekeeping Division) of the Ministry of Natural Resources started (2011) a four year pilot project in Pugu and Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserves. The details of the project can be downloaded from the internet (for download click here)
The chances of reversing the destruction of the Pugu and Kazimzumbwi Forests are slim, considering the pressure on these forests for charcoal and considering the history of conservation attempts in these forests. Arguably it can be claimed that Pugu Forest with its modest size of 22 km2 has received the highest investment in conservation per hectare of forests in Tanzania.
The WSCT is said to be established for saving these coastal forests in 1988, but the complexity of protecting these plant diversity hotspots has proven a real challenge.
According to the project implementers the approach in this project will be different in the sense that it is now assumed that all stakeholders interested in saving these forests are to collaborate together "if the efforts are to have any success". Although optimism is an important asset when assigned with the task of reversing the destruction of these forests which all previous projects failed to achieve, "realism" is an important ingredient for success, not only towards the planning of the project in terms of concept and finances but also towards the public. Concerned Tanzanians should have a realistic understanding of the immense task and articles as found on the WWF blogspot do not contribute to creating the required awareness.
Pugu Hills Nature Centre has not really made a difference in saving the Pugu Forest notwithstanding all the time and efforts made since the early 1990s, to assist the Government in conservation of the Pugu Forest. Perhaps among our guests somebody feels tempted to support the efforts of WCTS and make a difference. Tanzanians should visit the forest and see the loss, for citizens a permit of 3,000 Tsh allows a visit. Unfortunately non-citizens, who could play an important role in involving Tanzanian citizens in conservation activities, require to pay 30 usd. (the rates were reviewed in the 2011 regulations after publishing of the article)
Below a snapshot of the present status of the Pugu "Forest" is provided.
The first image shows a 3D impression (elevation exaggeration 3) of the forest looking to the West with the Uluguru Mountains of Morogoro at the horizon. The pictures were taken in May 2004 and November 2010. The barren patches are burnt areas cleared for charcoal with the light spots being bush clearings for charcoal kilns. From the 2004 image it is evident that the last patches of forest stands with tall trees recognizable by the dark shades (with the sun at the back of the camera), have been effectively cleared and left as barren land during the six year period ending 2010.
The second image shows the South-western hill of the reserve with the TAZARA railroad communication tower in 2010 and the pace of destruction on the same hill is illustrated on the third image.
The fourth image shows a new development and threat to the forest which is the sandstone mining with some mining already taking place within the forest boundary. The developments in Kazimzumbwi are illustrated in the last image where half of the image on the left is from 2004 and the right half from 2010. The forest boundaries of the reserves in Pugu and Kazimzumbwi are not always respected as can be seen on this image. The forest boundaries on the ground do not follow the reserve border as indicated in the topographic map. Even reserve boundary markers are inside the forest reserve assuming that the topographic map is right, resulting in mining inside of the reserve especially along the southern border. The encroachment was already observed just after the millenium on our website but is become irriversible at present.
Please click on the image for print or download.