View from the Zoo: Tanzanian project reaps its rewards

The Udzungwa Forest Project has allowed local children to attend school.
The Udzungwa Forest Project has allowed local children to attend school.

It has been a busy year for Flamingo Land’s, Tanzanian based, Udzungwa Forest Project (UFP). We are excited to report that there have been many successes.

UFP was created with the aim of helping local people use the forest sustainably. It also monitors and protects the unique species that live in the Udzungwa mountains and surrounding area. As part of this project a new charity called Reforest Africa was created specifically to help protect the plant species which many of the animals rely on.

This year saw the first Reforest Africa Day. This event was a celebration of the work of the charity and attracted over 400 local people. Many of the villagers in the Udzungwa region still rely on the forest for their basic supplies so it is important that they are in support of projects which directly affect them.

One of the biggest successes for UFP and Reforest Africa was the agreement by all villagers in Msolwa to use fuel-efficient stoves.

Traditionally, villagers use wood collected from the forest to build fires for cooking. Wood collection can damage the forest and uncontrolled fires have been known to spread and destroy large areas of forest habitat.

The fuel efficient stoves use pellets created from waste wood and the husks from nuts and seeds. This means that villagers can recycle waste materials and avoid taking new wood from the forest. The stoves are also more efficient meaning that less heat is wasted.

UFP has also had success with its native plant nursery. Well over 3,000 seeds were planted this year including those of the Afzelia tree which is being monitored as part of the project. The hope is to use the native tree saplings to reforest areas which have been lost to unsustainable wood harvesting and forest fires.

UFP has also begun work on building a new school for local children. As well as normal lessons the school will run classes about native species protection and about ecotourism.

We look forward to updating you with more information about its progress in the new year.