While awareness campaigns have been mounted in most parts of the country on the seriousness of environmental degradation and measures to reverse the trend clearly stated, the level of implementation still leaves a lot to be desired.
Almost every other day, we read, see or hear stories of some destroyed water source, invaded forest reserve, not to mention catchment areas turned into new pasture or farmlands.
We also know of efforts exerted in some areas to reverse the trend, but we also know that in some cases the effort is either inadequate to reverse the damage done or follows the reality that in order for man to survive, the natural resources must suffer, where like in our case, sustainable practices are yet to be adopted.
A few examples of man’s struggle to survive include cutting down trees for firewood, for timber to build houses or clearing land for farming, among others.
Some of that land happens to be very strategic to life itself, such as the truth that forests help not only to absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen, but also to make rain.
So while there may be efforts to regenerate forests and repair damaged environment, it is also true that we still need to go further, by providing alternatives to tree felling or any of the activities that destroy the environment.
We take note of the move by the Coast Regional authorities to save the mangroves in the Rufiji River delta by relocating the residents of 17 villages who are threatening survival of mangroves which are crucial in preventing erosion, salination and are breeding grounds for various fish species.
According to reports the villagers, engaging in farming and logging, have reportedly destroyed 15,000 hectares of the mangroves in the delta.
A huge area of the delta comprising the named villages has been affected by saline intrusion due to destruction of the mangroves.
According to the reports, a majority of farmers in the area, especially from the village of Salali, have even built structures inside the national mangrove forest reserve ostensibly to provide shelter during the farming season, also prohibited in the reserve area.
Coast Regional Commissioner Mwantumu Mahiza has directed Rufiji District Commissioner to form a committee to train villagers on environmental conservation especially on sustainable harvesting of mangrove forests and charcoal burning.
She also called on forest experts and other people dealing with environmental issues to teach them about the climate change and how it ultimately affects the people. She also urged the Tanzania Forest Services Agency, especially the Mangrove Management department to support reforestation of the mangrove forests in affected areas.
She did not end there. She called on the forestry people to cultivate closer relationship with the villagers as a way of sustaining the work of regenerating and protecting the mangrove forest.
While the RC’s call might have been specific, it is worth adopting by forest officials and all other officials engaged in natural resource management in the country.
For at the end of the day, there is a need to ensure that people are enlightened about sustainable use of the country’s resources, if they are going to be co-opted as dependable guardians.