A new nature reserve – including forests which are rich in biodiversity – has been declared in Tanzania.
The new Nature Reserve links together three smaller forest reserves and some farmed areas. The combined reserve covers 25,000 hectares and supports 135 endemic species of plants, two endemic species of birds, six endemic species of amphibians, two endemic species of reptiles and one endemic small mammal. Additionally, 44 Eastern Arc endemic vertebrates are also found in the Uluguru Mountains. Many of these species are regarded as threatened with extinction.
The reserve is also of critical importance for the provision of water to the Ruvu River, which is the main water supply to the capital city of Dar es Salaam, especially during the dry season. Water flows from the Ruvu River have been declining in recent years, and better protection of the forests in the watershed of this river may help improve water supply for millions of people in nearby Dar es Salaam. Protection of the forests is also critical to reducing the effects of climate change, since tropical trees absorb nearly 1/5 of the carbon released by burning fossil fuels, and better managed forests will be able to recover from degradation and capture more of their carbon back.
Neil Burgess - a staff member of WWFUS - has been heavily involved in the process to declare this new nature reserve and catalog the importance of the area for biodiversity, water supply and carbon capture. "This new nature reserve represents the culmination of many years of work by a variety of people," Burgess said. "It joins together existing reserves and old farmland areas into a single forest management unit, allowing isolated forest patches to be reconnected and permit both the movement of endemic plants and animals, and the resilience of the area against the adverse impacts of climate change."
Learn more about WWF's work in Coastal East Africa.