NCAA is seeking to encourage citizens residing close to the forest highlands of the northern tourism corridor to preserve its ecosystem due to its importance, with Karatu town alone getting 75 per cent of its water from it.
Officer in-charge of Mbulumbulu Forest Reserve, which is part of NCAA, Mlungwana Mchomvu, said 75 per cent of the water used in Karatu comes from the forest.
“Therefore, it is better for citizens to be encouraged to protect the environment of the forest and its water source,” he appealed.
NCAA has provided seedlings and distributed more than 1,683 of them for free to citizens of neighbouring areas as part of its involvement in protecting the environment of the water source.
“We have given three blocks of trees to residents for free and we are going to make sure we send seedlings to households. If not cared for, this forest which covers 810 kilometres square, may fail to produce enough water for residents,” he noted.
He said another strategy of saving the key resource was to provide education using participatory environmental protection to residents to enable them to view the forest as their property and the importance to preserve it.
Mchomvu added that they had provided modern dairy cattle for free to residents to help them generate income rather than relying on the forest by cutting down trees for timber and firewood.
The project on keeping improved breeds of dairy cattle was designed and facilitated by NCAA and it has already benefited 37 households since its establishment nine years ago.
The project chairman from Ayalabe Village, Emmanuel Awati, said that in 2007 NCAA distributed 157 dairy cattle to residents in neighbouring villages to discourage them from entering the forest to graze their animals.
He said under the project, a villager who was given a cow was required give his or her neighbour a female calf to control the population of inferior breeds of livestock which need more space for grazing.
He said the project is ongoing and will involve all interested residents rearing dairy cows.