Nature Forest Reserves in Tanzania and their importance for conservation

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  • Claire Ract
  • Burgess, Neil David
  • Dinesen, Lars
  • Peter Sumbi
  • Isaac Malugu
  • Julia Latham
  • Lucy Anderson
  • Roy E. Gereau
  • Marcelo Gonçalves de Lima
  • Amina Akida
  • Evarist Nashanda
  • Zainabu Shabani
  • Yusuph Tango
  • Someni Mteleka
  • Dos Santos Silayo
  • Juma Mwangi
  • Gertrude Lyatuu
  • Philip J. Platts
  • Francesco Rovero

Since 1997 Tanzania has undertaken a process to identify and declare a network of Nature Forest Reserves (NFRs) with high biodiversity values, from within its existing portfolio of national Forest Reserves, with 16 new NFRs declared since 2015. The current network of 22 gazetted NFRs covered 948,871 hectares in 2023. NFRs now cover a range of Tanzanian habitat types, including all main forest types-wet, seasonal, and dry-as well as wetlands and grasslands. NFRs contain at least 178 of Tanzania's 242 endemic vertebrate species, of which at least 50% are threatened with extinction, and 553 Tanzanian endemic plant taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties), of which at least 50% are threatened. NFRs also support 41 single-site endemic vertebrate species and 76 single-site endemic plant taxa. Time series analysis of management effectiveness tracking tool (METT) data shows that NFR management effectiveness is increasing, especially where donor funds have been available. Improved management and investment have resulted in measurable reductions of some critical threats in NFRs. Still, ongoing challenges remain to fully contain issues of illegal logging, charcoal production, firewood, pole-cutting, illegal hunting and snaring of birds and mammals, fire, wildlife trade, and the unpredictable impacts of climate change. Increased tourism, diversified revenue generation and investment schemes, involving communities in management, and stepping up control measures for remaining threats are all required to create a network of economically self-sustaining NFRs able to conserve critical biodiversity values.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0281408
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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© 2024 Ract et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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