Residents of Kilombero District in south-western Tanzania commemorated this year’s World Environment Day by assessing the progress they have made in restoring forest landscapes along the Mchombe River.
With support from the African Wildlife Foundation, the Rufiji Basin Water Board, and the Kilombero District Council, 14 communities in the landscape have since 2017 planted trees and adopted climate-smart agricultural practices in a bid to restore and protect the ecosystem.
The communities’ efforts have included water and food security initiatives and spreading the influence of biodiversity conservation to private companies, government institutions, and conservation and development partners.
To mark the World Environment Day celebrations on June 5, the communities took stock of the milestones that they have achieved three years since they began the work.
“We have reclaimed some areas affected by brick making along Mchombe River, which have since regenerated,” said Tarajia Kahemela, secretary to the Water User Association, the community-based institution under Rufiji Basin Water Board committed to the restoration of natural ecosystems.
During the participatory assessment on the progress of vegetation regeneration, it was noted that the restoration activities along River Mchombe have been successful with vegetation cover increasing along the river line. In addition, the behavioral change of the communities was noted and appreciated. There has been a reduction of anthropogenic activities like housing and farming along the banks of the river, helping to reduce soil erosion and protect the integrity of the ecosystem for the benefit of the community that depends on the river for water security.
This work has been made possible through the support of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Global Nature Fund.
The event was attended by groups composed of community-based institutions including Water User Association, Environmental Rescue Group (OKOA Mazingira), Environmental Conservation GROUP (Kuhifadhi Mzingira), Village Natural Resources Committees from the villages of Mngeta, Lukolongo, and Mchombe and Kilombero District Council.
To cap the celebrations, the joint groups committed to strengthening restoration through the integration of beekeeping whose benefits include improving the livelihood of adjacent communities and increasing conservation outcomes. The target beneficiaries of this planned integrated restoration have been identified to be a member of local institutions, with greater inclusivity of marginalized groups such as youth, women, and agro-pastoralists.
AWF is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wildlands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, the organization articulates a uniquely African vision, bridging science and public policy, and demonstrating the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wildlands.