Open Letter to Friends of Pugu and Kazimzumbwi

An Open Letter To Friends of Pugu and Kazimzumbwi (Forests)

 

Dear Friends of Pugu and Kazimzumbwi

We are happy to read that there are more friends of Pugu on the internet! Please let me introduce myself - we operate a Nature Centre at the border of Pugu Forest and try to be a friend of the forest since 1996. (Due to the complexity of saving the Pugu Forest and our limited means we have to limit ourselves to Pugu)

Our group of Pugu Forest Friends meets occasionally in Dar es Salaam when the opportunity is there. Recently the access to the Pugu Forest for environmentally friendly activities like hiking, bird watching and the like has improved significantly. The Government reduced the entrance fees to the Pugu Forest (and others) from 3,000 tsh to 1,500 tsh for citizens and from 30usd to 10usd for non-citizens.

We think it is time that a forest at the edge of a multi million metropolis like Dar es Salaam should serve as a greenbelt for recreation and for research by the major educational institutes of the country of which many are located in Dar es Salaam, rather than as an unsustainable charcoal source.

During our first visit (February 2012) to the Pugu Forest since many years we found that the clearing of remaining patches of the old forest is still continuing, even though the pace of destruction has been slowing down during the last year. We hope that the REDD project can support the Government law enforcement activities - in combination with the awareness and capacity building activities of the project.

An other option for changing the whole purpose of this forest which still mainly acts as a charcoal mining production site, could be to invite Dar es Salaam residents to the forest and to let them discover the remains of this beautiful forest so close to the polluted city Centre which could soon be lost as a greenbelt for Dar es Salaam and its future generations of residents. To attract people to the forest you will have to compete with the beach which already attracts significant numbers of town people, but an early hike in the forest can certainly match a beach outing. We should however avoid that increased interest in the Pugu Forest will develop as a new threat through uncontrolled littering an other environmentally unfriendly behavior.

My point is here that an awareness campaign aimed at conservation of nature - still needs some Nature as the object of the protection measures and that increased efforts to completely halt further harvesting in the Pugu Forest is a condition for conserving the still incredible biodiversity of this dying coastal forest.

We will appreciate if some of our staff members could be invited in your future seminars in the Pugu Area while we consider them as assets in the efforts to change the perception of Pugu Forest at community level and for increasing your support in the community around the forest.

best regards

 

Kik van den Heuvel

Pugu Hills Nature Centre

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