Tanzania plans to revamp roads getting into the forest reserves located in southern part of the east African nation to ease movement of tourists, a senior official unveiled Tuesday.
“This is part of the Tanzanian government’s efforts to open up southern tourist circuit so that more tourists visit the area, which is rich in tourist destinations,” said Glory Mziray, an official with Tanzania Forest Service (TFS).
Mziray made the remarks at a special visit made by 28 Malawian lawmakers in the natural forest reserves and national parks located in Tanzania’s southern tourist corridor.
The MPs who are members of the Malawian Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change visited the south western Tanzania’s Mount Rungwe Nature Forest Reserve, a tropical montane forest with a unique species composition, structure and biodiversity.
Mzirai said: “We are trying to open up the southern corridor so that forest reserves and other tourist destinations are easily visited by tourists. So, TFS has teamed with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to improve all roads getting into those areas.”
Innocent Lupembe, the conservator of the Rungwe nature reserve, described the reserve as a key water source in the region providing water to countless villages and towns for domestic, agriculture and industrial use in Mbeya, Rungwe and Kyela Districts.
The mountain is the catchment for key rivers in the landscape including Kiwira, Suma, Mbaka, Kilasi, Marogala, Mrombo, Mulagala, Sinini and Mwatisi Rivers, which flow into Lake Nyasa shared by Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.
“This area is also key to the conservation of residual tropical montane forest as well as rare, endemic and endangered biodiversity. It is a reservoir of species heritage in Tanzania and the world at large,” he said.
“The area demands greater sensitivity in management interventions as well as abating threats as it is host to rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna. The reserve is host to two of the world’s twenty five rarest primates, the Kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji) and the Rungwe galago. Important antelopes including the very rare Abbott’s duiker are harboured in this reserve,” he said.
He informed the Malawian delegation that local communities around the nature reserve are empowered with income generating activities such as beekeeping and fish farming.
“These encourage them to conserve the nature reserve…they have their own arrangement on patrols and the government doesn’t incur any cost,” he said.
The area, according to Lupembe, receives an average of 60 tourists per month.
Weranile Chilenga, chairman of Malawian Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change, vowed to adopt Tanzania’s participatory forest management policy in their home country because of its importance in scaling up conservation drive.
Chilenga also commended Tanzania for having better environmental and forest policies that have led to better management of its natural resources. Enditem