Tanzania: Rice, Sugarcane Farmers to Benefit From Released Forest Reserve

KILOMBERO Sugar Company (KSC) has commended the government for designating them 26,151 hectares of Magombera Nature Forest Reserve, saying it will benefit the local communities depending to grow more rice and sugarcane.

The KSC Managing Director, Guy Williams, said recently that, "Without the invaluable ecological services provided by the adjacent forest, this important agricultural region would be under serious threat from floods and soil erosion," He further said that the 'reserve area' originally known as the Magombera Forest incorporates 1,226 hectares of land forming part of Kilombero's Msolwa Estate, and if occupied by Kilombero would mostly be suitable for sugarcane cultivations.

He said the Magombera Nature Forest Reserve for that forms part of the land, relinquished by Kilombero Sugar Company, is set to break boundaries in forest conservation in Tanzania, and ensure that tourist entrance fees will go both to local communities and the government's managing authority.

In the scope, more than 30 tribal groups are represented, whose four villages surround the Magombera Forest, and are known to be home of more than 10,000 people, who rely on it for subsistence farming for their livelihoods.

"Given that the forest is home to many endangered species and to other plants and animals, not found anywhere else in the world, and the fact that its continued existence used to be under threat from poachers and illegal tree cutters, who used the wood to make charcoal, we decided to play our part and agreed to relinquish its section to allow it to become part of the globally unique Magombera Forest Ecosystem," he pointed out.

Recognizing that local and international Conservationists regarded the Magombera Forest as a threatened area of tropical lowland forest, high in biodiversity value with unique Flora and Fauna, Kilombero has never used the area for large-scale agriculture.

He said the formal establishment of the reserve followed long discussions that culminated in the negotiations in 2016 between Kilombero, local communities, representatives of the Tanzania government and the TFCG.

It was decided that the land would be declared as a Natural Forest Reserve (a protected area), under the management of TFCG, whose responsibilities include the continued protection of the reserve and the promotion of its conservation value.

"As part of the wider Illovo Sugar Africa group, and in combination with its environmental commitments towards environmental resource protection, we are extremely pleased with the outcome and wish the government and the TFCG every success in the managing and promotion of this ecologically valuable land," he said.

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