PUGU Kazimzumbwi Forest in Kisarawe District, Coast Region, is deteriorating fast following a high rate of illegal logging by residents in the neighbourhood and other people from as far as upcountry.
Human activities, including farming, have reduced this famous forest reserve to stubby shrubs. The situation throws Dar es Salaam city into danger as either floods or acute shortages can strike in the coming years.
Speaking to a group of journalists who toured the forest on Wednesday, the Director of Tanzania Specialist Organization on Community Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation (TASONABI), Mr Bariki Kaale, said that the forest was currently in danger due to a lack of effective management and protection.
"There is a need for the government and other stakeholders in forestry and the environment to team up and protect the forest from abuse," Mr Kaale said. The journalists saw how people were clearing trees in Kazimzumbwi Forest to pave the way to agricultural activities.
Some claimed that they had blessings to conduct such activities from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development. Yesterday, the Director of Forests, Dr Felician Kilahama, issued a statement ordering all people who have invaded the forest to move out before the government takes legal measures against them.
"All people who are carrying out activities in Kazimzumbwi Forest without permission should vacate the area with immediate effect," the statement read in part. Kazimzumbwi Forest is the major catchment area for rivers that supply the city of Dar es Salaam and other areas with domestic water.
The rivers include Mzinga, Msimbazi and Zinga. Kazimzumbwi Forest, which is located in Pugu Hills, some 20 kilometres south of Dar es Salaam, adjoins the Pugu Forest Reserve.