The Government is required to give a gret attention to Pugu Forest Reserve in Kisarawe district- Kibaha region that is among the great forests in Tanzania with a wonderful scenic beauty and rich in variety of tree species. Despite this, the forest is highly threatened with destruction through human activities the major one being charcoal production. It is said that in few years ago the forest was very rich in hardwood, to date only few hardwood species exist. But charcoal production is not the only reason for destruction of Pugu Forest Reserve the other factor is mining activities that are taking part in some areas of the forest that results in deforestation and soil erosion.
In Minaki area stone mining has been taking place for about five years now. Some people from TANROAD came here in year 2005 they took some technical measurements, cleared the forest and start extracting sand and stones for building the Kisarawe road. After one year the company went off and left the area with big pits without doing land reclamation therefore it brought a chance for individuals to come and take over with the activity to date, reports one of the miners at Minaki stone mining area.
The Young Environmentalist Trainees (YETs) under the sponsor of WWF- Tanzania programme had a one day field trip to Kisarawe. The purpose of the trip was to visit one of the CSOs called Vijana Vision Tanzania (VVT) and Pugu sand mining area. VVT being one of the CSOs that deals with management of Natural Resources shared with us on how they conduct their daily activities including the challenges they face in managing the forests that are within their project area. They mentioned the Pugu and Kazimzumbwi forest reserves as big forests that are within their project area.
On his speech the Executive Director mentioned the challenges that his organization is facing in managing the two mentioned forests he said, The Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism under the department of Forest and Beekeeping has been a drawback to participatory management of forests as per new Forest regulation of 2002. There has been some propaganda about doing participatory forest management.
One of the village leader reported that three years ago they wrote a letter to the Ministry through the District authority asking for permission to manage the forest as the Forest Policy says about Forest Participatory Management (FPM) but till today they haven’t receive any answer. It is said that the problem of not acting toward the policy has been due to the issue of cost benefit sharing from the forest. This might be the reason for the increase of human activities that lead to destruction of the forests such as charcoal production, mining, timber cropping and other activities.
It was proposed by the central Government that people that are mining in Minaki at Pugu Forest Reserve should be evicted from the area and be shifted to Kazimzumbwi where they will go on mining stones and sand. Up to today its not yet done that means that those miners are going on mining in Minaki stone mining area. They want us to shift to the area which has no water and poor road facilities how are we going to survive there, asked one of the miners who were interviewed by YETs.
He went on saying that here in Minaki we do fetch water from Minaki Secondary school for cooking, bathing and washing our clothes we are not ready to leave this area with important facilities and go to Kazimzumbwi unless other wise if the Government is going to take action to make sure that they are available there at Kazimzumbwi before we shift. Here our customers are easily accessing us because of good infrastructure but if we go there now we might miss all of our customers therefore our business will be non-profitable so by realizing that we nobody amongst us is ready to shift to Kazimzumbwi.
Through the interviews with the miners it was discovered that there is no good relationship between the leaders such as the District Commissioner (DC) and other local leaders.
A man who was interviewed said that, the DC is treating them so harshly because one day she commanded a track full of stones to go and unload at the school ground so that it will be used for building that school, he said if the DC could come to them in a harmonious way and ask them to contribute one lorry of stones for building that school they could do it in peace since their children are the one who will benefit by getting education instead of the way she did. By doing so she is creating a kind of enemity between the government and us seeing that the government is neglecting our rights because we are here struggling to find some money for our survival and the government is mistreating us where should we go? Is it fair for our own leaders whom we voted for treating us like this, the man asked bitterly.
There is a need for the government to find quick solution for this problem through a round table conversation between the local and central leaders and local communities to reach a peaceful consensus YETs as changing agents we are calling upon a great attention and quick action for the Government because its our Natural Resources that are deteriorating instead of being utilized sustainably for the benefit of our Nation.
The government should stop promising things that are tough for them to implement. Also the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism should be fast and acting upon its Policies, Laws and Regulations that are of great use towards achieving sustainable management of natural resources.
Participatory Management of Natural Resources such as Wildlife, Forests and Fishery should be given a priority in attaining sustainable management of natural resources and so as to obtain its contribution to the national GDP while sharing the benefits to the local people improving their livelihoods.
The government also should work hand to hand with the CSOs that are dealing with Environmental Issues since they are the one who have good experience in working close to the local communities in their daily implementation of their projects towards achieving their mission and goals.
The Government should seek to have round table conversation with the local communities while making some decisions that may affect their livelihoods instead of using forces and other bad approaches.
Local communities should participate actively from the initial stages of any planning and decision making processes concerning the management and utilization of natural resources instead of being commanded to act upon what has been decided already.
If these will be done effectively, the local communities will feel as they are concerned in management of natural resources and if they destroy or do any mismanagement activities it will cost them and their future generations.
Also more education is needed for the local communities to understand the importance of conserving our natural resources in participatory means.
We have remained with few forest Reserves that are of great potential and they are still surviving from human activity destructions; let us conserve them seriously in a participatory way and sustainably.