Site location and ownership
The Uluguru Mountains Nature Reserve consists of three forest blocks separated by a 106 hectare ‘gap’ of degraded land known as the Bunduki Gap, where WLT worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST).
The heavily degraded land that forms the Bunduki Gap forms a formidable barrier to wildlife seeking to cross between the forested protected areas. Thus the aim here was to re-establish forest within this gap, enabling populations to move safely through the Uluguru Mountain reserves.
A baseline biodiversity survey conducted in December 2009 recorded 67 bird species within the gap area, including Black-headed Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) and Slender-billed Starling (Onychognathus tenuirostris).
As well as providing for the safe movement of wildlife, the restored habitats within Bunduki Gap will, with time, come to support habitats and species of substantial importance.
The surrounding habitats are severely impacted by human population growth, and, in the long-term, it will be essential to prevent encroachment into the protected area.
Key threats to extant forest blocks include subsistence agriculture and commercial banana plantations. The reduced size and fragmentation of these forests compromises the viability of species populations within them, necessitating re-planting in forest gaps to reconnect them.
WLT supported the reforestation of this 106 hectare ‘gap’ that separates the Uluguru North, Uluguru South and Bunduki Forest reserves, which together form the Uluguru Mountains Forest Reserve. 140 farmers who tilled land within this gap were compensated in return for their relocation, enabling the 106 hectares to be gazetted by the Government to form part of the wider Nature Reserve.
Assisted natural regeneration and enrichment planting was then undertaken by WCST with support from the WLT reforestation programme.
WLT reforestation programme
Reforestation work commenced in 2009 and ended in 2012 by which time 48,000 trees had been planted.
A project tree nursery was established in 2009 beneath the shade of trees and close to the Mgeta River, which provided an ample supply of water.
In the first instance, two easily-established, fast-growing pioneer tree species, Khaya anthotheca and Albizia schimperiana were established. These will provide conditions for subsequent natural regeneration of a wider variety of species, including some that colonise during later stages of forest re-growth.
Teams of people from local villages were keen to participate in ground preparation and tree establishment work, earning a valued supplement to their farm income. A further three villagers were employed in the nursery.