Thursday, March 17, 2011
THE POTENTIAL USE OF MKUYU (FICUS SPP) TREES IN CONSERVING WATER SOURCES
The Mkuyu (Ficus spp) tree is a typical water catchment plant species that the local community uses for locating well sites and is believed to maintain a perennial supply of water if left to grow near it. Mikuyu trees are left to grow in water catchment areas to maintain a constant source of water for springs and wells. These trees have taproots and widespread lateral roots that hold wet soil and maintain wetness of after rainfall (UNEP).
Hala and Haraa villages, in Babati District are found in the highland zone dominated by several water catchment areas and different types of forests such as Miombo, tropical forests and Mikuyu (Ficus spp) trees that protect soil erosion and facilitate rain formation which in turn feed the available water catchment area.
Destruction of the water catchment through felling down forests for firewood, construction materials and or grazing livestock has destructed the water catchments resulting into shortage of water for domestic, rainfall, change of microclimate and decrease in crop production.
Both individuals and villagers in Hala and Haraa were said “previously we were not involved in Forest management thus we did not see the importance of forests, we kept felling down trees for firewood, construction materials and grazing our livestock, later on we experienced shortage of water and rainfall and change of microclimate. After being involved in Participatory Forest Management, we have managed to protect the forests, especially the Mikuyu (Ficus spp) trees near the water catchment. The forest is providing water, frequent rainfall and conducive microclimate to our communities”.
Lack of accessible to good quality water both in urban and rural areas is among of the six major problems identified for urgent attention in Tanzania, the government should raise awareness among the communities on the benefits of the Mikuyu (Ficus spp) trees. .The present laws should be enforced to prevent deforestation of the existing Mikuyu (Ficus spp) trees as they help in conserving water sources.
Written by; Deodatus Kiriba-YET 2011
Reviewed by; Jullianne Birungi- FACILITATOR AT MS-TCDC