The Ministries of Tourism and Natural Resources and Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development have locked horns over a planned carving of 200 plots from Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserve in Coast Region.
The Natural Resources and Tourism ministry through the Forestry and Beekeeping Department says the Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development is using the pretext that the area is part of Chanika village, while it knows that the areas is part of the reserve.
According to the Director of Forestry and Beekeeping in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Felician Kilahama, there has been a concerted struggle by officials in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development to secure the 200 plots from the reserve.
“It is amazing to see this happening when the world community is struggling hard to protect woodlands so that the earth becomes a better place to live in,” he said in a statement.
He added: “Kazimzumbwi was gazetted in 1954 when some of us were still young and many others were not yet born. The colonialists found it a valuable area and decided to put it under legal protection. Surprisingly, we the rulers of today do not see this value. We want to see houses within the area,” he said.
“For the past few months we too have made deliberate efforts. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, in collaboration with the regional and districts leaders (Ilala and Kisarawe) with the support of the regional and district security committees, have managed to remove encroachers from the legally protected area,” Dr Kilahama said.
The move to carve 200 plots out of the area and moving fast to alter the forest boundary for that sake, he said, is indeed an act that cannot be accepted in the context of good governance and respect of law.
But Lands minister Prof Anna Tibaijuka said in a telephone interview that the problem is the demarcation line between Chanika village and the said forest reserve.
She hastened to add that the department should contact the Survey and Mapping Department in her ministry for an informed clarification on the matter.
“These issues are being complicated for no reasons, we as the core Ministry, are responsible for protecting these areas. Others are only users. They should contact the Directorate of Survey and Mapping in my ministry for clarification. I advise Dr Felician Kilahama to contact Dr Mayunga in my ministry for an informed clarification,” she said.
However Dr Kilahama warns: “We need Kazimzumbwi reserve now more than ever before. Climate change is impacting on us, thus forests are urgently needed to help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
He said more houses in the area means trouble for Dar es Salaam dwellers who are already feeling the negative impacts of climate change fuelled by high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
He advised the Lands ministry to look for the plots elsewhere, particularly in unreserved areas around Dar es Salaam or Coast regions.
“One must remember that the purpose of gazetting Kazimzumbwi area was not to reserve it for future plots but to protect the area for the rivers such as Mpiji, Msimbazi and others whose sources are within the water catchment forest of Pugu and Kazimzumbwi,” he said.
He noted that what is being done to alter the boundary without even bothering to look at its original status or seeking his ministry’s endorsement is an outrageous behaviour by a few greedy individuals in the government system and who want to cause unnecessary outcry.
The government efforts to secure conservation of Kazimzumbwi forest are supported by the government of Norway through the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST).
WCST is operating as a government partner in ensuring that Kazimzumbwi is well restored and managed for the benefit of Tanzanians and global communities as far as climate change is concerned.