Ecoregion – Southern Africa, Tanzania – Travel Journal D. McKone 2009

A Brief Survey of the Traditional Forest Reserves of Rungwe District, Mbeya Region, Tanzania



Traditional methods of natural resource conservation have generally been ignored in most parts of the world, in favor of “top-down”, government formulated rules and regulations. Over the past ten to fifteen years, however, there has been a growing awareness of the role that traditional resource management may play in helping to conserve natural resources, at least on a local level. Traditional Forest* Reserves (TFR) are one form of traditional resource conservation. During a brief survey carried out in Rungwe District, Mbeya Region, southwestern Tanzania during 1994, 94 TFR were identified. These reserves are used for a variety of purposes, though some may no longer be in active use. The Tanzanian government, either at the national or local level, may have a role to play in encouraging the continuation and preservation of TFR.

*The term forest includes woodland and other similar vegetation formations.


Uncontrolled deforestation, of both forests and woodlands, is a major issue of concern in Tanzania (NEMC, 1994). Reliance by both local and national governments on rules and regulations to protect and enhance forest resources in Tanzania has proved inadequate. As a result, the Tanzanian national government has recognized that ‘local people’ have a role to play in managing natural resources.

Examples from many parts of the world have shown that local management of natural resources can sometimes ensure the maintenance and enhancement of these resources far better than can governments (e.g. Reij, 1991; Lynch, 1992; Center for International Development and Environment, 1994). In Tanzania, the government recently released a long-term plan for sustainable development which included discussions of local/traditional management of natural resources. One section of the document states: “traditional conservation measures were practiced to protect wildlife, forests and fishing stocks. In several parts of the country, for example, villagers on their own initiative, identify certain forests as sacred areas and forbid tree cutting, grazing and even bush-fires in these areas”. It continues: “These beliefs, passed on from one generation to another, help to conserve the environment in the locality for many years, often until someone comes to the area with ‘modern’ ideas” (NEMC, 1994).

There is, however, little information in print on the topic of traditional management of natural resources, including forest resources, in Tanzania. As part of increasing this limited knowledge base, a brief survey of Traditional Forest Reserves (TFR) was carried out.

Goal of the Survey

The broad objective of this survey was to investigate an interesting system of traditional forest conservation: Traditional Forest Reserves (TFR).This survey also aimed, specifically, to help develop a better understanding of:

  • The number and status of TFR in Rungwe District.
  • The history of TFR.
  • The purpose(s) of TFR.
  • The management of TFR.
  • The future of TFR.
  • What role, if any, the Tanzanian government, at the local and/or national level, has to play in this traditional system of forest conservation.

It should be noted that, due to its limited nature, this survey did not specifically investigate potential gender issues related to TFR. This was rather unfortunate.

Description of Rungwe District

Rungwe District is located in Mbeya Region, southwestern Tanzania. The district seat, Tukuyu, is located, roughly, in the center of the district, on the summit of an extinct volcano. Rungwe District occupies an area of approximately 2,400 sq km. The district contains a variety of topographical features, including: high volcanic mountains to the north, steeply dissected escarpments to the east and west, and undulating terraces leading to almost level ground in the south. Elevations range from 2,900 masl to less than 600 masl, with higher elevations predominating.

Rungwe District is one of the more densely populated districts in Mbeya Region (approximately 100 to 134 people/sq km in the late 1980s). The climate, except at lower elevations, is usually relatively cool, with abundant rain during the months of October to June/July/August (1500-2000+ mm/yr).

A wide variety of subsistence and cash crops are produced in the district, including: maize, beans, bananas, Irish potatoes, tea and pyrethrum. There are commercial plantations of tea, in addition to the small holders who produce this crop. Soils in the district vary from fairly recent, volcanic soils (Andosols) to older, more weathered soils, (including Nitosols). These soils are often of medium to high fertility.

The ‘natural’ vegetation in the district varies from upper montane forest at higher elevations to wet woodland (‘Miombo’) at lower elevations. Much of the ‘natural’ vegetation has been cleared/transformed for agriculture and habitat. Most of the remaining ‘natural’ vegetation is found in government forest reserves and in locally protected areas, though even these areas have been subjected to varying degrees of people driven disturbances. (McKone and Walzem, 1994; Rungwe District, various dates).

A study of TFR in Rungwe District


The methods used in gathering information on TFR included: a survey of existing socio-anthropological literature, a seminar with concerned district foresters, visits to selected TFR (15 TFR in Rungwe District were visited) and informal discussions with local elders, and both traditional and government leaders. The survey included all parts of Rungwe District. The total time spent carrying out the survey, including the seminar, was approximately 10 days (19 April-29 April, 1994).

Definition of a TFR

The following definition of a TFR was used for the purposes of this survey: A forested area, not less than approximately 0.04 ha (400 sq m), which is protected by the residents of the adjacent area in accordance with their customary laws. The creation of TFR has its roots in the local community and is in no way based on government laws. (This definition is based on Gerden and Mtallo, 1990). In Kiswahili, the national language of Tanzania, TFR are referred to as Misitu ya Jadi; in Kinyakusa, one of the main ‘local’ languages of Rungwe District, they are called Isieto.

History of TFR in Rungwe District

TFR appear to have existed in the Rungwe area since prior to the ‘Colonial era’ (late 1800s to 1961). This was reported to be the case by a wide variety of local people, during the course of the survey. In addition, a British geographer, D. Kerr-Cross, stated that during his visit to the Rungwe area in 1893, he saw: “In various parts of the country, and often on the crests of rounded mounds of considerable size are to be seen clumps of thick forest. There are their (sic) ‘isyeta’ or sacred groves, or burial-places of their ancestors.” (Kerr-Cross, 1895). TFR and their histories, purposes, etc. are also discussed by Wilson (1959).

Categories of TFR in Rungwe District

Based on the results of the survey, TFR in Rungwe District were divided into 9 categories:

(see Table 1.).

Table 1. Categories of TFR reported in Rungwe District (provisional)

 Category of TFR (purpose)
 Number of TFR in this category
Approximate percent in this category
1. Worship/Prayer 
2. Burial
4. Rain
5. Worship/Prayer/Rain 
6. Slaughter
7. Conservation 
8. Worship/Prayer/Conservation
9. Unknown

The number of TFR in each category was determined by visits to the TFR, reports from Rungwe District foresters and information provided by local people. See Appendix for information on, and locations of, specific TFR.

Explanation of the categories of TFR

Table 2. Explanation of the categories of TFR:

 1. Worship/Prayer Used primarily as a place of prayer and/or worship of ancestors/spirits during times of famine, sickness, drought, etc.
2.  Burial Used primarily as a place of burial for village chiefs or other ‘important’ people from a village.
 3. Worship/Prayer/Burial Used for a combination of the above two categories. 
 4. Rain Used primarily to help bring rain (because of the presence of trees).
5. Worship/Prayer/Rain  Used for categories 1 and 4. 
 6. Slaughter Used primarily for slaughter of animals to be used for ceremonies in nearby, more important TFR. Only one TFR in this category visited or reported; reported to be no longer be in use.
 7. Conservation Exists primarily as a place to conserve existing vegetation.
8. Worship/Prayer/Conservation  Combination of 1 and 7. 
9. Unknown   Primary purpose of TFR is unknown.

It should be noted that the categories used for TFR are somewhat arbitrary. Most TFR probably have multiple uses that make the above designations less than absolute. These categories are meant only as a rough means of comparison. It should also be pointed out that, in addition to the uses outlined above, almost all TFR are also used for gathering traditional medicines, food, fuelwood, etc. These may actually be the primary function of many of the TFR. Finally, some of the TFR are no longer actively maintained or used; in fact, this may be the case with many TFR. It is not possible, based on the results of the survey, to quantify how many of the TFR not visited are still being maintained/used. There are strong pressures to open any available land to cultivation in much of Rungwe District. This adds increased pressure against the continued existence of TFR.

The vegetation found in the TFR includes upper montane/montane forest remnants (where people driven impacts are less obvious), secondary vegetation-including secondary upper montane/montane forests, planted forests, and woodland.

A discussion of the customary rules and regulations governing the preservation of TFR and the recent socio-political factors that have affected TFR is beyond the scope of this report.


The TFR of Rungwe District are an example of a working indigenous conservation system, albeit probably to a much less extent than in the past. Many of the reserves are in poor condition and not being maintained. This a function of the changes that have taken place, over the past 100 years, in the structure of government and society in Rungwe District. There are, however, a number of TFR still being maintained and respected, not just by village elders, but also by younger people (both those who have opted to stay in their villages and by those who have migrated to towns and cities).

The Tanzanian government, at both the local and national level, should do what it can to help preserve this tradition. Laws that provide legal sanction for TFR, but that will not supersede customary laws, may help to ensure the continued existence of TFR in Rungwe District. Measures taken to assist in the preservation of this tradition should be carried out only after consultations with those responsible for maintaining the TFR. They are the ones who, ultimately, will determine whether or not TFR will continue to exist.


Center for International Development and Environment. 1994. Traditional Property Rights and Natural Resource Management: Empowering Forest Dwellers. (Paper). World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.

Gerden, C. and S. Mtallo. 1990. Traditional Forest Reserves In Babati District, Tanzania: A study in human ecology. Working Paper 128, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, IRDC, Uppsala.

Kerr-Cross, D. 1895. “Crater-Lakes North of Lake Nyasa, with a Suggestion as to the Origin of Central African Lakes.” The Geographical Journal, February, 112-124.

Lynch, O. 1992. “Securing Community-Based Tenurial Rights in the Tropical Forests of Asia: An Overview of current and prospective Strategies.” Issues in Development, World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.

McKone, D. and Walzem, V. 1994. A Brief Survey of Mbeya Region Catchment Forest Reserves. Government of Tanzania/EEC Agroforestry, Soil and Water Conservation Project/Regional Natural Resources Office, Mbeya.

National Environmental Management Council, Tanzania. 1994. National Conservation Strategy for Sustainable Development. Dar es Salaam.

Reij, C. 1991. Indigenous Soil and Water Conservation in Africa. IIED Gatekeeper Series No. 27. IIED, London.

Rungwe District. Various dates. District Records. District Offices, Tukuyu.

Wilson, M. 1959. Communal Rituals of the Nyakusa. Oxford University Press, London.

Summary of Catchment Forest Reserves in Rungwe District

Background Information

There are six gazetted catchment forest reserves in Rungwe District, two of which are under local authority. Another eight catchment areas are in the process of being gazetted.

LIVINGSTONE is the largest reserve, situated on the northern and northeastern slopes of the Lake Nyasa Trough. KYEJO is situated on Kyejo Mountain, which is a dormant volcano. Directly adjacent to LIVINGSTONE’S northwest boundary is RUNGWE, which covers most of Rungwe Mountain, also a dormant volcano. KITWELI is a small reserve located just west of RUNGWE. SAWAGO, slightly larger, is situated just north of RUNGWE, on the south facing slopes of the Poroto Mountains. MASUKULU, the only woodland reserve of the six, is located on an interfluve that drops down towards Lake Nyasa.

All of these reserves’ waters contribute to the rich agricultural lands in Kyela and Rungwe districts, before emptying into Lake Nyasa.

Management Suggestions

The reserves with the highest management priorities are LIVINGSTONE and RUNGWE. These two large reserves are major contributors to Lake Nyasa and are in immediate need of attention. Both are under heavy grazing and pitsawing pressure, and are prone to dry season grass fires. Pitsawing is especially heavy along RUNGWE’S northern boundary, adjacent to the Kiwira Forest Project. Cultivation and bamboo collection are particularly heavy in the north of LIVINGSTONE. Restrictions on these activities and attempts at reforestation should be made. Management should include cooperation with surrounding residents, including the Kiwira Forest Project, with the goal of getting their input and participation in protecting and maintaining the reserves at a sustainable level.

Both of these reserves are potential sites for minor tourist activities. Several hiking trails to Rungwe Peak and the road along LIVINGSTONE’S upper boundary offer breathtaking panoramic views of the Kitulo Plateau and the Nyasa Trough, as well as examples of vegetation types, e.g. the well developed Ericaceous belt found on Rungwe Mountain, which are not found in other parts of Mbeya Region.

SAWAGO, in the north, is next in importance. Though it is relatively small it is in fact a major contributor to the Kiwira River. It is currently being heavily grazed and illegal pitsawing is rampant. Even the most elementary patrolling could reduce these problems. Some community involvement with forest maintenance and management could only help in the long term protection of this reserve.

KYEJO and MASUKULU are minor catchment areas, though MASUKULU does have one intake supplying water to a village downstream. KYEJO contains grassland and low stature forest, which are currently under very heavy grazing pressures. MASUKULU is a wet woodland reserve originally designated as “productive-protective”. This should be changed to “protective” only, as timber extraction and charcoal production have exhausted the reserve in the recent past. Grazing needs to be controlled in both reserves. Gap planting of indigenous tree species is also highly advisable.

KITWELI is the smallest of the six reserves and is in relatively good condition. Catchment value here is low, though its streams are used by local villagers. Its small size and proximity to surrounding villages make this reserve an ideal place to investigate the potential for community management, if this is deemed to be a worthwhile strategy for the future protection of forest reserves.

The remaining eight proposed catchment forests should be gazetted and prioritised for management purposes, but only after having involved neighbouring villages in the areas in identifying and finalizing the reserve’s boundaries.


Name: – Kitweli Forest Reserve
Administrative location: – Rungwe District, DFO-Tukuyu
Year of establishment: – 1952
Declaration: – G.N. 171 of 6/6/1952

Boundary map: – Jb 121 (1:5,280) 1952
Topographic map: – 259/1

Gazetted area: – 577 acres (234 ha)
Gazetted boundary length: – 7,808 yds (7.14 km)

LOCATION: 9º06′ – 9º08′ S and 33º32′ – 33º34′ E
Between Rungwe Mountain and the Uyole-Tukuyu road, 5 km NE of Kiwira town. The reserve is accessible by track from Kiwira and by footpath from Ndaga village. The Kiwira River bounds the reserve in the west. From there the reserve runs east up a steeply sloped, double peaked mountain from 1500m at the river to 1840m at the ridge. On Topographic map 259/1 the reserve is shown as forest but no name is given.

SOILS AND GEOLOGY: The topsoil is a light loam, dark brown in color. It is generally shallow, about 10-20 cm deep, and is often mixed with pumice. The subsoil is a loose pumice gravel, derived from parent material of the same. Vitric andosols (Tv) [FAO]. Underlying rocks include schist and volcanic lavas.

CLIMATE: Convectional rainfall with continental/convectional temperatures.
Nearest rainfall station: Rungwe Tea Estates.
Estimated rainfall: 1750 mm/yr. Dry season: June-October.
Estimated temperatures: 24ºC max (October) and 12.5ºC min (June-July).

VEGETATION: This reserve is composed primarily of Montane forest, with smaller amounts of bushed grassland. The forest covers approximately 75% of the reserve and is particularly thick in the stream valleys. The bushed grassland makes up the remaining 25%. It is found mostly on the southeastern slopes, while smaller patches occur along ridge-tops and on some of the lower slopes, where some forest disturbance is apparent.

Montane Forest: Characterized by a relatively low canopy of 10-20m, with a few emergents to 25m. Lianes are common.

Common trees seen: Albizia gummifera, Ficus sur, Maytenus acuminata, Myrianthus holstii and Parinari excelsa.

Other species include: Aphloia theiformis, Bersama abyssinica, Bridelia sp, Catha edulis, Cussonia spicata, Diospyros whyteana, Ficalhoa laurifolia, Ilex mitis, Macaranga sp., Maesa lanceolata, Myrica salicifolia, Nuxia congesta, Olea sp., Olinia rochetiana, Pittosporum viridiflorum, Polyscias fulva, Rapanea melanophoeos, Schefflera goetzenii (climber), Syzygium guineense and Trema orientalisEnsete ventricosum and Trema orientalis are common in the understory. Cornus volkensii and Prunus africana are reported, but were not seen.

Bushed grassland: Characterized by Agauria salicifolia, Dombeya sp., Erythrina abyssinica, Protea sp., Syzygium cordatumTecomaria capensis and medium height grasses and bracken.

CATCHMENT VALUES: The reserve is a minor catchment area, with 3 small streams, including the Mwankujo, originating here. They all flow into the Kiwira River, which runs along the reserve’s lower boundary and empties into Lake Nyasa.

TIMBER VALUES: Only a small quantity of lower grade timbers are present here, including Albizia gummifera, Ficalhoa laurifolia and Parinari excelsa.

BIODIVERSITY: The reserve is made up of widespread species. Animals include Colobus Monkeys and various bird species.

HUMAN IMPACTS: This reserve has not been heavily disturbed, relative to other catchment forests in the area. Collection of deadwood for fuel is common, as is the extraction of smaller trees for tool use. Minor hunting and bee-keeping are reported. Grazing is minimal. Grassfires along the boundary appear to be frequent. Bamboo has been planted along one small stretch of the boundary.

LOCAL LAND USE: Surrounding farms contain bananas, cassava, coffee, maize and livestock. Small scale woodlots of exotics are common.

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS: Boundary clearing and planting are needed, as it is rather uncertain in many places. Small woodlot planting should be encouraged and facilitated, as the area has high potential for their success. This reserve, being relatively small and undisturbed, would be a good location for an experimental village-run management scheme. Perhaps the Rungwe DFO would be interested in trying this on a trial basis.

Groome, J. S. 1947. Report of a Preliminary Reconnaissance of Kitweli Hill, Rungwe District. Forest Department, Mbeya. Typed report.

Anonymous (n.d.) Management for Kitweli Forest Reserve.
E.E.C. Agroforestry and Soil Conservation Project, Mbeya.


Name: – Kyejo L.A. Forest Reserve
Administrative Location: – Rungwe District, DFO-Tukuyu
Year of establishment: – 1956
Declaration: – G.N. 247 of 10/8/1956

Boundary map: – Jb 292 (1:10,000) 6/3/1956
Topographic map: – 259/2

Gazetted area: – 1,712 acres (693 ha)
Gazetted boundary length: – 12.5 km (estimated)

LOCATION: 9º11′ – 9º15′ S and 33º45′ – 33º50′ E
5 km south of Kandete village. From there the Manow-Ndara road runs near the eastern boundary. Access is possible along numerous foot-paths, the largest which runs N-S through most of the reserve. All of the top and much of the sides of Kyejo mountain, a dormant crater-pocked volcano, is covered by the reserve, which is about 1.5 km across. Topography varies from very flat in some of the calderas to very steep along their walls. Elevation range is 1700 to 2170m.

SOILS AND GEOLOGY: Dark brown to black topsoil with depth to 50 cm. Vitric andosols (Tv) [FAO]. Subsoil and parent material is mostly volcanic ash and pumice. Rock outcrops are common. Kyejo mountain is of volcanic origin, built largely of trachytic lavas. The last eruption here is estimated to have occurred around 1800 A.D.

CLIMATE: Convectional rainfall with continental/convectional temperatures.
Nearest rainfall stations: Ndala village and Tukuyu town.
Estimated rainfall: 2000 mm/yr plus mist effect. Dry season: June-October.
Estimated temperatures: 23ºC max (October) and 10.8ºC min (June-July).

VEGETATION: Consisting of low stature Upper Montane forest, bushland and grassland. The forest is thickest in stream valleys and on the upper slopes of the crater walls. In other places it grades into bushland, the latter of which is most common between forested areas and along the reserve boundaries. Grassland is found on the flat crater floors and on very steep slopes near the boundaries.

Upper Montane Forest: Canopy height 10m, open in many places with occasional emergents to 15m. Lianes are common.

Common trees and shrubs seen: Alsophila sp., Cussonia spicata, Dombeya sp., Dracaena sp., Hagenia abyssinica, Maesa lanceolata, and Neoboutonia macrocalyx.

Other species include: Agauria salicifolia, Allophylus sp., Bersama abyssinica, Canthium sp., Ensete ventricosumFicus thonningiiIlex mitis, Lobelia sp., Macaranga sp., Myrica salicifolia, Ochna holstii, Polyscias fulva, Psychotria sp., Rapanea melanophoeos and Schefflera goetzenii (climber).

Bushland: Low stature Hagenia abyssinica and Maesa lanceolata are common, with scattered berry bushes and bracken.

Grassland: Comprised of short grasses and scattered bracken.

CATCHMENT VALUES: Streams originating here include the Mbenga, Mpagule, Mwaipasi, Mwakajuanga and Sembera. Many of these flow into the Rufirio River in the east and all end up in Lake Nyasa.

TIMBER VALUES: Little or no valuable timbers exist here, with only a few exploitable Hagenia abyssinica.

BIODIVERSITY: The forest is made up of widespread species. Animals include Dikdik, monkeys, wild pig and a variety of bird species.

HUMAN IMPACTS: The reserve is under very heavy grazing pressure. Cattle trails are numerous and are a cause of much gully erosion on the slopes. These livestock are also inhibiting natural regeneration of the forest, as they are freely roaming all parts aside from the steepest slopes. Collection of fuelwood and thatching grass is common. Bee-keeping is reported and numerous footpaths run throughout the reserve.

LOCAL LAND USE: Surrounding crops include bananas, beans, coffee, maize, sweet potatoes and tea. Woodlots of exotics for fuelwood and timber are common.

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS: Kyejo is currently under no management of any kind. Upgrading the “Local Authority” reserve status may be of benefit. Patrolling is needed to keep grazing in check. Boundaries are clear in places but need to be planted with boundary trees. Resurveying may be in order, as there are over 300 beacons on the existing boundary map, an absurdly large number for a boundary which is only 12.5 km long!

LITERATURE: None known.


Name: – Livingstone Forest Reserve
Administrative location: – Rungwe District, DFO-Tukuyu
Year of establishment: – 1940
Declaration: – G.N. 48 of 1940
Variation order: – None

Boundary map: – Jb 50 (1:50,000) 5/1938 (No schedule)
Topographic maps: – 259/1 and 259/2
Special map: – 1965 (1:125,000) Bamboo map

Gazetted area: – 65,150 acres (26,366 ha)
Gazetted boundary length: – 128 km

LOCATION: 9º00′ – 9º14′ S and 33º40′ – 33º57′ E
40 km from Mbeya city to the north end of the reserve via the Uyole-Isyonje-Igoma-Kikondo route. The full upper boundary is accessed by this same road as it runs south past the Kitulo Dairy Project. The lower slopes, including the Katete Hills, are accessed via tracks from Kandete village, about 20 km northeast of Tukuyu town. The reserve is situated at the north end of the Lake Nyasa Trough, on the escarpment’s west and south facing slopes. It runs approximately 20 km N-S, with its north end encircling the Kandete-Mwakalele area. Most of the reserve is heavily dissected and rises steeply from 1400 to 2900m.

SOILS AND GEOLOGY: Well drained with low bulk density. Topsoil is dark brown to black loam/sandy loam, varying in depth from 10 to 50+ cm. Predominantly Vitric andosols (Tv) [FAO] and other Andosols (T). Subsoil is made up of alternating bands of yellow-orange pumice and soil. Parent material is volcanic ash and pumice. Underlying rocks are basaltic and phonolitic lavas, with pre-Karroo Ubendian gneisses deeper down.

CLIMATE: Convectional rainfall with continental/convectional temperatures. Nearest rainfall stations: Kiwira Forest Project, Kitulo Dairy Farm and Ndala.
Estimated rainfall: 1650mm plus mist effect at higher elevations.
Dry season: June to October. Estimated temperatures: There is considerable variation from bottom to top. At higher elevations: 17oC max (October) and 4ºC min (July); middle elevations: 21.5ºC max (October) and 9oC min (June-July).

VEGETATION: The reserve is dominated by Montane and Upper Montane forest. Large amounts of bamboo are present as well as smaller amounts of grassland. The Montane forest covers a relatively small area in the lower elevations, around 1400-1800m. The Upper Montane forest is of considerable proportions, and is thickest in the Katete Hills and at middle elevations, around 1800-2400m. These two forest types make up roughly 45% of the reserve. Bamboo makes up approximately 35% of the reserve and dominates in most of the middle to higher elevations, around 2200-2700m. This bamboo is occasionally mixed with smaller stands of trees or scattered emergents. Grassland with scattered shrubs dominates at the highest elevations, 2600-2900m, though there are often areas with equal amounts of forest, bamboo and grassland.

Montane Forest: Broken canopy of 20-25m with emergents to 30m.

Common trees seen: Aphloia theiformis, Ficalhoa laurifolia, Maesa lanceolata, and Trichocladus ellipticus.

Other trees and shrubs include: Alsophila sp., Bersama abyssinicaBridelia micrantha, Cassipourea sp., Catha edulis, Dracaena sp., Ficus sur, F. thonningii, Garcinia buchananii, Ilex mitis, Macaranga sp., Maytenus acuminata, Myrica salicifolia, Parinari excelsa, Schefflera goetzenii (climber) and Tabernaemontana angolensis.

Upper Montane Forest: Canopy is 16-25m with emergents to 30m. Cover is often broken due to disturbance.

Common trees seen: Allophylus sp., Aphloia theiformis, Bridelia micrantha, Cassipourea gummiflua, Chrysophyllum gorungosanum, Cornus volkensii, Ficalhoa laurifolia, Garcinia buchananii, Hagenia abyssinica, Maesa lanceolata, Neoboutonia macrocalyx, Ocotea usambarensis (dominant in west and central areas), Podocarpus sp., Sinarundinaria alpina and Trichocladus ellipticus.

Other trees and shrubs include: Albizia gummifera, Aningeria adolfi-friedericii, Bersama abyssinica, Casearia battiscombei, Catha edulis, Cussonia spicata, Diospyros whyteana, Ekebergia capensis, Ficus sur, F. thonningii, Halleria lucida, Ilex mitis, Macaranga sp., Nuxia congesta, Maytenus acuminata, Myrica salicifolia, Myrianthus holstii, Mystroxylon aethiopicum, Olinia rochetiana, Pittosporum viridiflorum, Polyscias fulva, Prunus africana, Rapanea melanophoeos, Schefflera goetzenii (climber) and Syzygium guineense.
Shrubs in the understory include: Alsophila sp., bracken, Canthium sp., Clausena anisata, Ensete ventricosum, Lobelia sp., Pavetta sp., Piper capense, Peddiea fischeri, Psychotria sp. and Vepris stolzii. Other species characterising the forest edge are Agauria salicifolia, Mystroxylon aethiopicum, Dodonaea sp., Erica sp., Heteromorpha arborescens, Hypericum revolutum, Protea spp., Rhus sp., Syzygium cordatum and Tecomaria sp.

Bamboo: Sinarundinaria alpina up to 16m(?!!) with dbh of 10 cm. Occasional emergent trees include Agauria salicifolia, Cornus volkensii, Cussonia spicata, Hagenia abyssinica, Ilex mitis, Macaranga sp., Nuxia congesta and Ocotea usambarensis. Bracken and Piper capense are common in the understory.

Grassland: Made up of short grasses, often with bracken, Erica spp. and scattered Protea spp. Pinus patula is colonising in some areas adjacent to the Kiwira Forest Project.

CATCHMENT VALUES: This reserve makes up a very large and important catchment area, the waters of which all run into Lake Nyasa in the south. Streams in the northwest of the reserve, near Igoma, are the headwaters of the Kiwira River. Streams on the western slopes of the Katete Hills flow into the Mwatisi River, which originates in RUNGWE. Streams flowing from the central region of the reserve and Katete’s eastern slopes flow into the Kandete River. Streams flowing out of the heavily dissected eastern slopes of the reserve feed into the Rufirio River. Numerous villages and farms, including Kyela district’s rich agricultural lands, are fed by these waters before they reach Lake Nyasa.

TIMBER VALUES: Ocotea usambarensis stands out as the most valuable and important timber species in this reserve. It is quite large and numerous in certain areas. Podocarpus sp. occurs in smaller quantities. Low grade timbers which occur in varying quantities include Aningeria adolfi-friedericii, Casearia battiscombei, Ekebergia capensis, Ficalhoa laurifolia, Hagenia abyssinica, Parinari excelsa and Prunus africana. There are substantial quantities of bamboo present in this reserve.

BIODIVERSITY: Made up predominantly of widespread species though some of the higher grasslands, adjacent to the Kitulo Plateau, may contain plant species of restricted distribution.

SPECIAL INTEREST SITES: Grand views of the Nyasa Rift Escarpment and the Kitulo Plateau are had from the road running along the top of the reserve.

HUMAN IMPACTS: Extremely heavy grazing is taking place in the northwest area of the reserve, resulting in excessive gully erosion and inhibited regeneration of the forest at its edges. Cultivation near Kikondo, once legal in a very small area, appears to have moved well beyond its legal boundaries. Collection of bamboo and fuelwood is common, contributing to the erosion problem along footpaths throughout the reserve. The Igoma-Kitulo road, passing through the north end of the reserve, is another cause of erosion. Pitsawing, legal and illegal, is common. Tanesco recently cut a broad path through a small part of the reserve for its Mbeya-Kitulo power line. Fires are reportedly common in the western part of the reserve boundary area.

LOCAL LAND USE: Outside the lower boundaries bananas, beans, coffee, maize and tea are grown. Woodlots of various sizes are common. In the upper east and northeast Irish potatoes, pyrethrum and livestock grazing are common. Adjacent to the reserve in the north and far west are IRENGA , IRUNGU, Kiwira Forest Project and the RUNGWE.

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS: Cattle grazing is rampant in the north and is in need of some kind of regulation. The expanding cultivation near Kikondo village needs investigating, with possible resurveying of the boundaries in that area. Boundary tree planting would be helpful, though in most places the boundary is obvious, as the shambas run right up to the reserve’s edge. Pitsawing is in need of regulation, with the potential for limited Ocotea usambarensis extraction.

None is known for LIVINGSTONE, though much has been written about the adjacent Kitulo Plateau and the Livingstone Mountains in general.


Name: – Masukulu Local Authority FR
Administrative location: – Rungwe District, DFO-Tukuyu
Year of establishment: – 1958
Declaration: – G.N. 556 of 19/12/1958

Boundary map: – Jb 412 (1:10,000) 1957
Topographic map: – 259/4

Gazetted area: – 1,456 acres (589 ha)
Gazetted boundary length: – 17,803 yds (16.3 km)

LOCATION: 9º25′ – 9º28′ S and 33º45′ – 33º49′ E
20 km SE of Tukuyu, north of Ipande and just SE of Masukulu village. Access is via the Masukulu-Ipande road, which runs centrally down most of the reserve’s length. Numerous tracks and paths run into the woodland from this road, often continuing to surrounding villages. Elevation ranges from 500 to 700m along low rolling hills.

SOILS AND GEOLOGY: Reddish brown topsoil over lighter colored subsoil. Texture varies from clay to sandy clay. Surface is very rocky in some areas. Dystric nitosols (Nd) [FAO]. Parent material includes basaltic lavas.

CLIMATE: Convectional rainfall with continental/convectional temperatures.
Nearest rainfall station: Chivanjee Tea, Musekera and Mwitika Estates.
Estimated rainfall: > 2000 mm/yr. Dry season: Aug-Oct.
Estimated temperatures: 30ºC max (October) and 20ºC min (June-July).

VEGETATION: The reserve is made up of “miombo” woodland. A few small areas of bushland are present, probably a result of past disturbance. Ground cover is usually short grasses, often sparse. Small areas of riverine vegetation occur near some streams.

Woodland: Canopy is often broken due to human disturbance. Usually 10-12m, up to 14m in thickest areas.

Common trees and shrubs seen: Annona senegalensis, Brachystegia boehmii, Isoberlinia angolensis, Rhus sp., Uapaca kirkiana and U. nitida.

Other species include: Brachystegia spiciformis, Brachystegia sp. Bridelia sp., Combretum sp., Cussonia arborea, Dalbergia nitidula, Dichrostachys cinerea, Erythrophleum africanum, Ficus sur, Ficus sp., Garcinia kingaensis, Lannea schimperi, Maprounea africana, Ochna sp., Parinari curatellifolia, Pericopsis angolensis, Rothmannia sp., Swartzia madagascariensis, Syzygium guineense, Tarenna sp., Vitex sp., Ximenia sp. and Ziziphus sp.. Julbernardia globiflora has been reported but was not seen.

CATCHMENT VALUES: Several small streams, including the Kinanasi, Mita and Nyamikiga, originate in the reserve. Matwebe village receives water from an intake on the Nsige stream. These waters flow into the Njugiro and Luwalisi Rivers, which then make their way to Lake Nyasa.

TIMBER VALUES: Lower grade timbers, namely Brachystegia spp., are present but are usually of poor form. Pericopsis angolensis and other potentially useful timber species are rather scarce and of small stature.

BIODIVERSITY: The reserve is made up of widespread tree species. Animals include Baboons, wild pigs and numerous bird species.

HUMAN IMPACTS: Charcoal production is rampant, particularly in the southern boundary area. Large areas of woodland are being cleared for this purpose, with preferred species being Brachystegia boehmii and Isoberlinia angolensis. Fuelwood collection is common also, as well as livestock grazing. Bee-keeping and hunting are reported and footpaths are numerous. There is one small quarry near the center of the reserve where soil was removed, possibly for exploratory mining.

LOCAL LAND USE: Surrounding crops include bananas, cassava, cocoa, maize, rice and tea. Limited tree planting is evident.

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS: It appears that the reserve is not under management of any kind. Boundary tree planting is needed. Charcoal production should be monitored, as it is well out of control and in need of regulation. Grazing should be licensed and limited.

LITERATURE: None known.


Name: – Rungwe Forest Reserve
Administrative location: – Rungwe District, DFO-Tukuyu
Year of establishment: – German administration 1902
Declaration: – G.N. 773 of 26/5/1949
Variation orders: – G.N. 54 and 55 of 20/2/1953

Boundary map: – Jb 62 (1:30,000) 1902 (German Colonial Administration)
– Jb 63 23/8/1941
– Jb 92 (1:25,000) 2/8/1948
Topographic map: – 259/1
Special map: – 1965 (1:125,000) map of stands of bamboo
– Jb 2038 (1:25,000) 1980

Gazetted area: – 1928: 39,520 acres
– 1953: 33,735 acres (13,652 ha)
Gazetted boundary length: – 69,885 yds (63.9 km)

LOCATION: 9º03′ – 9º12′ S and 33º35′ – 33º45′ E
Covering most of Rungwe Mountain, the reserve is situated 25 km SE of Mbeya and 7 km N of Tukuyu, just east and north of the Uyole-Tukuyu highway. The reserve is accessed in the north and east via the Isongole-Ndala track, which runs between the reserve and the Kiwira Forest Project. In the west the Rungwe Mission road runs near the boundary in several places. In the south access is by the Katumba-Kandete road. This is the highest mountain in Mbeya region and dominates the skyline for kilometers around. It is composed of 10 or more dormant volcanic craters and domes. The reserve is approximately 13 km across, and is situated inside the north-most end of the Lake Nyasa Trough. Topography varies from hilly to steeply dissected, with elevation ranges from 1500m in the south to 2960m at the summit.

SOILS AND GEOLOGY: Typically well drained, low bulk density sandy loams to loamy sands. Topsoil is black to brownish-gray. Subsoil consists of alternating layers of pumice-gravel and soil. Parent material is volcanic ash and pumice. Soils in the high grasslands are thin and quite rocky. Vitric andosols (Tv) and other Andosols (T) with areas of Lithosols (I) [FAO].
Mt. Rungwe is a dormant volcano built up mainly of phonolitic trachyte lavas and tuffs, overlying a foundation of phonolites and basalts.

CLIMATE: Convectional rainfall with continental/convectional temperatures. Nearest rainfall stations: Isongole, Kiwira Forest Project, Ndala and Rungwe Tea Estate. Estimated rainfall: 1550 mm/yr in the north to 1850 mm/yr in the south.
Dry season: June to October. Estimated temperatures (at middle elevations):
20ºC max (October) and 9ºC min (June-July).

VEGETATION: The reserve is made up primarily of Montane forest, Upper Montane forest and grassland, with lesser amounts of bushland and heath at the upper elevations. The bulk of the forest cover is in the southeast quadrant of the reserve, on the slopes facing Tukuyu town. Some bushed grassland is found near the western boundary of the reserve, but by far most of it is on the mountain top, where it covers approximately 3000 ha. There is a heath zone, which is generally a transition zone between the forest and the upper grasslands. It is most evident on the southern slopes below Rungwe Peak. In the northeast, adjacent to the Kiwira Forest Project, areas which were once grassland have now been colonised by Pinus patula.

Montane Forest: Found at lower elevations in the south and west of the reserve. Canopy is often broken, 10-25m high. Some areas appear to be secondary growth.

Common trees seen: Albizia gummifera, Aphloia theiformis, Bersama abyssinica, Bridelia micrantha, Diospyros whyteana, Hagenia abyssinica, Macaranga kilimandscharica, Maesa lanceolata, Maytenus acuminata, Myrianthus holstii, Neoboutonia macrocalyx, and Schefflera goetzenii (climber). Lianes are common.

Other trees and shrubs include: Agauria salicifolia, Allophylus sp., Albizia schimperana, Alsophila sp., Cassipourea gummiflua, Catha edulis, Chrysophyllum gorungosanum, Cornus volkensii, Cussonia spicata, Dombeya sp., Ensete ventricosum, Ficalhoa laurifolia, Ficus sur, Garcinia buchananii, Ilex mitis, Myrica salicifolia, Nuxia congesta, Olinia rochetiana, Peddiea fischeri, Pittosporum viridiflorum, Podocarpus sp., Polyscias fulva, Rapanea melanophoeos, Rhus longipes, Syzygium guineense and Trichocladus ellipticusCassipourea malosana and Entandrophragma sp. are reported.

Upper Montane Forest: Canopy often broken, 10-30m with emergents to 35m. Fairly thick undergrowth is typical and lianes are common. Large stands of regenerating bamboo are prominent in the south and southwest.

Common trees seen: Allophylus sp., Aphloia theiformis, Bersama abyssinica, Casearia battiscombei, Cassipourea gummiflua, Chrysophyllum gorungosanum, Clausena anisata, Cornus volkensii, Diospyros whyteana, Dombeya sp., Ekebergia capensis, Entandrophragma sp., Ficalhoa laurifolia, Garcinia buchananii, Hagenia abyssinica, Ilex mitis, Macaranga kilimandscharica, Maesa lanceolata, Maytenus acuminata, Neoboutonia macrocalyx, Nuxia congesta, Olea capensis, Olinia rochetiana, Peddiea fischeri, Piper capense, Pittosporum sp., Podocarpus sp., Prunus africanaRapanea sp., Rawsonia sp., Schefflera goetzenii (climber), Sinarundinaria alpina and Trichocladus ellipticus.

Other trees and shrubs include: Albizia gummifera, Agauria salicifolia, Alsophila sp., Aningeria adolfi-friedericii, Bridelia sp., Canthium sp., Catha edulis, Dracaena sp., Ficus thonningii, Halleria lucida, Lobelia sp., Myrianthus holstii, Ochna holstii, Ocotea usambarensis, Pavetta sp., Polyscias fulva, Psychotria sp., Rawsonia lucida, Rinorea ilicifolia and Tabernaemontana angolensis.

Bushed Grassland: Grasses along the western boundary vary in height from short to tall; scattered shrubs are common. Short to medium grasses occur in small patches throughout the Upper Montane forest. These areas are generally quite bushy. The mountain top grasses are short and generally occur above the 2500m point, though the fire influenced treeline varies from 2000m in the southwest to 2800m near Rungwe Peak. Scattered shrubs are common, with occasional Pinus patula trees. Buchnera rungwensis and Valeriana capensis are herbs found at these higher elevations. Bushes and short trees seen most commonly in these grasslands include Agauria salicifolia, Aloe sp., bracken, Catha edulis, Erica sp., Hagenia abyssinica, Hypericum revolutum, Maesa lanceolata and Protea spp. Nearer to the forest edge are found Heteromorpha arborescens, Osyris compressa, Syzygium cordatum and Tecomaria sp.

Heath: The Ericaceous belt is most developed in the upper south and southeast elevations, around 2600-2800m. It is dominated by Erica spp. with lesser numbers of Protea spp. and low stature Hagenia abyssinica.

CATCHMENT VALUES: Catchment importance here is high, as this reserve feeds numerous villages and towns from Kiwira to Katumba to Tukuyu and Kandete, and all points in between. All streams from the north, west and southwest flow into the Kiwira River. These streams include the Marogala, Sinini, Kipoke, Kilasi and Mulagala. In the southeast begins the Mbaka River, with the Suma River feeding into it. In the east the Mrambo and the Mwatisi flow out of the reserve. All of the above rivers flow into Lake Nyasa.

TIMBER VALUES: Podocarpus sp. is scattered throughout the reserve, though particularly large and plentiful specimens are found on the southwestern slopes at around 2000-2400m. Ocotea usambarensis is reported to be present in small numbers. Lower grade timber species include Albizia gummifera, Casearia battiscombei, Olea sp., Prunus africana and Macaranga kilimandscharicaPinus patula and Hagenia abyssinica are currently being exploited, often illegally, where the reserve adjoins the Kiwira Forest Project.

BIODIVERSITY: The reserve is made up of widespread species, however the upper elevation Ericaceous belt is the only known well developed example of this vegetation type in Mbeya region (in addition, there may be some endemic grasses and shrubs?). Animals include Colobus Monkeys, small game and numerous bird species.

SPECIAL INTEREST SITES: Mt. Rungwe is a dormant volcano, the barren top of which offers a landscape unlike any other in Tanzania south of Kilimanjaro. It is already of some interest to local expatriates and secondary school students and could easily be developed into a better known natural tourist attraction with a little publicity and a few smartly placed signs. The top of the mountain is accessed easiest from the high point on the Isongole-Ndala track, just south of Shiwaga crater. A longer and more forested hike can be had via the Rungwe Moravian Mission.

HUMAN IMPACTS: Pitsawing is common, particularly near the Kiwira Forest Project. Hagenia abyssinica and Pinus patula are the primary species being cut. Much of the forest along the road there appears to be secondary. Hunting and bee-keeping are common, and may be causes of the grass fires reported in the reserve. Grazing and fuelwood collection appear to be less of a problem than in other reserves. In the southwest, between beacons 68 and 71, approximately 700 ha of prime forest was alienated to the Rungwe Moravian Mission in the early 1900’s, which has been successfully exploited for timber ever since.

LOCAL LAND USE: Surrounding land use includes the planting of bananas, beans, maize, potatoes, tea and small woodlots. In the north and east are the Kiwira Forest Project and LIVINGSTONE.

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS: Boundary trees and clearing are apparent in many places but are in need of completion. A closer watch is needed on pitsawing in the north, as some appears to be illegal. Perhaps some management cooperation with the Kiwira Forest Project would be beneficial. Minor tourism could be promoted by making trails to the mountain’s summit more visible and accessible. Lines of communication should be opened between the DFO and the Moravian Mission, in the hopes that insights may be gained from each other on sustainable timber extraction practices.

Lovett, J. C., February 1986. Brief report on the vegetation of Rungwe Mountain.
Typed report found in the Rungwe District forestry files.

Anonymous. (n.d.) Management Plan for Rungwe Forest Reserve.
E.E.C. Agroforestry Project, Mbeya Region.


Name: – Sawago Forest Reserve
Administrative location: – Rungwe District, DFO-Tukuyu
Year of establishment: – 1937
Declaration: – G.N. 68 of January 1937

Boundary map: – – Jb 38 (1:10,560) 8/1935 (No schedule)
– Jb 2205 (1:10,000) 7/9/91
Topographic maps: – 245/3 and 259/1
Special maps: – Vegetation map (1:10,560) 1935

Gazetted area: – 2,240 acres (907 ha)
– Jb 2205: 790 ha
Gazetted boundary length: – 15,753 yds (14.4 km)

LOCATION: 9º00′ – 9º03′ S and 33º38′ – 33º40′ E
25 km SE of Mbeya, via the Uyole-Isyonje-Igoma route, just west of Igoma village. The reserve is situated on the south facing slopes of the Poroto Mountains, directly north of and facing Rungwe Mountain. Bounded on the north by the Isyonje-Igoma road and accessed in the south via the Isongole-Ndala road, near the old “Fish Camp”. There is a trail running the full eastern boundary of the reserve between the fish camp and Igoma. The western boundary can be accessed by vehicle via Isyonje village. Numerous footpaths run throughout the reserve, as bamboo is widely collected. Topography is steep and hilly, running 4km N-S from 2000 to 2350m. The topographic map shows a forested area but no reserve name is given.

SOILS AND GEOLOGY: Dark brown to black topsoil up to 50 cm deep: Vitric andosols (Tv) [FAO]. Subsoil consists of alternating layers of soil with ash and pumice. Parent material is volcanic, mainly ash and pumice.

CLIMATE: Convectional rainfall with continental/convectional temperatures.
Nearest rainfall stations: Irambo Mission and Kiwira Forest Project.
Estimated rainfall: 1600 mm/yr plus mist effect. Dry season: June-October.
Estimated temperatures: 22ºC max (October) and 9.5ºC min (June-July).

VEGETATION: Upper Montane forest dominates the reserve, occurring with large stands of bamboo, patches of grassland and a few intermediate areas of bushland. The whole of the reserve has been heavily disturbed, resulting in an often broken canopy of relatively low stature. Much of the forest, which makes up approximately 60% of the reserve, appears to be secondary growth. The bamboo, making up about 35%, is nearly all dead, with only minor scattered regeneration apparent. Grassland and bushland comprise the remainder of the reserve, much of which appears to be a result heavy livestock grazing going on throughout.

Upper Montane Forest: The broken canopy varies from <10m to 25m, with emergents to 30m.

Common trees seen: Hagenia abyssinica, Ilex mitis, Maesa lanceolata and Polyscias fulva.

Other trees and shrubs include: Allophylus sp., Aphloia sp., Bersama abyssinica, Catha edulis, Cornus volkensii, Cussonia spicata, Diospyros whyteana, Ensete ventricosum, Ficus thonningii, Macaranga sp., Maytenus acuminata, Myrica salicifolia, Nuxia congesta, Ocotea usambarensis, Pittosporum viridiflorum, Prunus africana, Rapanea melanophoeos, and Schefflera goetzenii (climber). Ficalhoa laurifolia and Podocarpus sp. are reported but were not seen.

Bamboo: Stands of Sinarundinaria alpina up to 10m with scattered emergents of Cornus volkensii, Cussonia spicata, Hagenia abyssinica and Ilex mitis. Most of the bamboo is dead and regeneration appears to be delayed.

Bushland/Grassland: Most common along forest margins and in areas of recent regeneration. 2-8m high. Dominated by Hagenia abyssinica. Also characterised by Agauria salicifolia, Maesa lanceolata, Myrica salicifolia and Tecomaria sp. Grasses are short, with scattered Aloe sp. and Protea sp.

CATCHMENT VALUES: Although a rather small reserve, it is of high catchment importance, as no less than 4 streams originate here, contributing heavily to the Kiwira River. They are the Sawago, Mbeti, Magauli and Nguja streams. The Kiwira River is a major contributor to Lake Nyasa.

TIMBER VALUES: Exploitation has been heavy in the past. Most of the valuable timbers have been pitsawed out, with the exception of recently regenerated Hagenia abyssinica, and even this is currently under the saw. Bamboo is plentiful and in heavy use, though much of it is dead.

BIODIVERSITY: The reserve is made up of widespread species. Colobus Monkeys, Dikdik, wild pig and various bird species are present.

HUMAN IMPACTS: Much of the forest is secondary growth due to human disturbance. Livestock grazing is heavy, resulting in excess erosion and inhibited regeneration of forest species. Fuelwood collection does not appear to be a problem, though timber and bamboo extraction are excessive. Bee-keeping and hunting are reported. There is an abandoned government house, inside the reserve, near the NW boundary.

LOCAL LAND USE: Surrounding crops include beans, Irish potatoes and maize. Local woodlots are common. Livestock are common.

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS: The boundary is fairly clear, as shambas come up to the reserve in most places; some beacons are still present, but complete boundary consolidation is needed. Gap planting of indigenous species is recommended for the encroached areas. Grazing and timber extraction are in need of licensing. Renovation and occupation of the existing government house for a “Bwana Miti” is an option.

LITERATURE: None known.

Report on a brief survey of the Catchment Forest Reserves of
Mbeya Region, Tanzania

Executive Summary

Mbeya Region currently has approximately 135,000 ha of gazetted catchment forest reserves. At present, the main management aim in these reserves is the maintenance of their water catchment properties. The value and importance of each of the reserves needs to be determined and priorities assigned, so that management plans can be prepared and implemented.

As very little information is currently available, the main purpose of this survey is to provide basic information on each of the reserves. A standardised descriptive format is used to provide a general data base for each reserve. The data was compiled from district and regional forestry records, published and unpublished literature and, most importantly, field visits to each reserve. This information will allow the reserves to be ranked in terms of their catchment, timber, biodiversity and amenity values. Management priorities can then be assessed and assigned.


Objective of Study

The objective of this study is to provide easy access to basic and important information for each of the Catchment Forest Reserves in the Mbeya Region. Brief management suggestions are then presented based on the information gathered.



  • Name: Name of the forest reserve spelled as in the official gazettement information.
  • Administrative location: District, Region and Contact Office.
  • Year of Establishment:
  • Declaration: Legal details of gazettement, including Government Notice (G.N.) when possible.
  • Variation order: Legal details of any variation orders with reference to the
    relevant Government Notice.


  • Boundary map: Details of boundary maps with Jb numbers, scale and date.
  • Topographic maps: Reference numbers to the national 1:50,000map sheets.
  • Special maps: Any other maps or aerial photo mosaics.


  • Gazetted area: Area of the reserve in the official gazettement notice, with
    conversion to hectares if necessary.
  • Measured area: Area of the reserve as measured by remote sensing when available.
  • Gazetted boundary length: Length of the reserve boundary as given in the
    official gazettement notice or boundary map schedule, with conversion to
    kilometers if necessary.


  • Latitude and longitude determined from 1:50,000 Topographic maps.
  • Approximate distance in kilometers from the nearest towns/villages.
  • Access to the reserve, or parts of the reserve.
  • A brief description of the area covered by the reserve and its elevation range.
  • When necessary, notes on errors of location of the reserve on the 1:50,000
    topographic maps.


  • A brief description of the soils in the reserve, preferably using the FAO-UNESCO
    soil classification system. Geological information may also be included, if


  • Whether the climate is oceanic (i.e. relatively cooler and wetter due to proximity to the Indian Ocean), continental (i.e. relatively hotter with longer dry season and more variable annual rainfall) or convectional (i.e. receiving convectional rain from nearby lakes).
  • Nearest rainfall station, preferably from the CIAT/FAO list of rainfall stations in
  • Estimated rainfall is derived from the nearest rainfall station data together with
    estimates based on the vegetation. Mist and groundwater effects are noted. Dry
    season months are those with less than 50mm of rain in a month. Estimated
    temperature is given for the elevation range noted.


  • A description of the vegetation is given, followed by more detailed accounts of each vegetation type. Names of plant species generally follow those used in the “Flora of Tropical East Africa”. The vegetation types used are:
    Grassland: Area of grass where there is little or no woody vegetation.
    Heath: Vegetation dominated by Ericaceous shrubs.
    Bushland: An open stand of bushes, 3-7m tall.
    Woodland: Wet woodland usually dominated by Brachystegia (locally referred to as “miombo”). Dry woodland is usually dominated by Acacia.
    Forest: The forest types used are an elevation gradient of lowland, Submontane, Montane to
    Upper Montane; with wetter or drier types. Ground-water forest grows on areas of
    groundwater, often in rainfall lower than is normal for the species in it. Similarly,
    mist forest is supported by water derived from cloud and mist. Actual elevations
    and rainfall determining the different forest types is dependent on local variations in
    temperature and dry season length, but an approximate summary is given in Table 1 below. When vegetation types are known to be secondary or in an early successionalstage this is indicated.


TABLE 1: Approximate elevation and rainfall ranges for different forest types in Tanzania


 Forest Type
 Elevation (m)
 Rainfall (map in mm)
 Dry lowland
 Dry submontane
 Dry Montane
 Upper Montane

(Source: Lovett and Pocs 1993)



  • A brief description of the reserve’s catchment values is given, with notes on
    uses of the water originating from the reserve.


  • Brief description of the reserve’s timber values is given. Species of
    particular interest occurring in the reserve are mentioned.


  • Brief description of the reserve’s biodiversity values. Species, vegatation types, or ecosystems of particular interest or of value as indicators of biodiversity are mentioned.


  • Brief description of sites and/or areas of geomorphological, historical, cultural,
    etc. significance found in the reserve.


  • Brief description of human disturbance and use of the forest.


  • Brief description of the land around the reserve in terms of land use and cover.


  • Brief outline of management needs (e.g. boundary clearing, gap planting).
  • Possible criteria for establishing a system of management zonation are given in appendix 5.


  • Literature known to exist on the reserve is cited.


These descriptions should be regarded as preliminary and limited (in most cases, however, they are at least a start…so all is not gloom and doom!). Some of the reserves are quite large, so it was not possible to carry out comprehensive or quantitative vegetation surveys or to collect all relevant catchment information. Nor was it possible to gather other than very general (if any) data on insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, terrestrial and epyphytic bryophytes, ferns/fern-allies and lichens, which are or may potentially be found in the reserves. All of these life forms are important components of biodiversity. Therefore, this survey does not adequately provide other than the most basic information on biodiversity in the reserves (including endemics and rare/endangered taxa).

The identification of vegetation usually took place in the field during rapid visits, without the benefit of appropriate keys, so there is the possibility of misidentified species in some cases.

Rainfall data should be viewed with caution. Much of it was obtained from secondary sources, which often contain information of questionable accuracy.

Soils and geological information were generally gathered through existing publications (scarce) and field observations. In the absence of detailed analytical data, classifying the soils was problematic.

Gazettement and boundary information was often difficult to obtain, incomplete, and conflicting.


The regional and district forest authorities should compile available information on each reserve and keep it on file and up to date. This information should include past history of the reserve, current situation, boundary and topographic maps. These items will help greatly in the eventual formulation of management planning and strategies.

Investigations should be of how the reserves are being utilized by the people living near them. This would be a first step in seeing how local residents might be involved in helping to formulate more sustainable management strategies for the reserves.

Presentation of the Report

The districts are arranged alphabetically, as are the reserves within each district. Rainfall stations and data, local names for trees and shrubs, proposed catchment forest reserves not included in the survey and references are all listed in the appendices.


Location map of Mbeya Region Catchment Forest Reserves is found at the bottom of this webpage.


The number before the reserve name below corresponds to the reserve as indicated on the map

Note: FR= Forest Reserve; LA = Local Authority


Ileje District

1. Ileje Range Proposed FR

2. Iyondo L.A. FR

3. Kabulo Proposed FR

4. Kyosa L.A. FR

5. Mswima L.A. FR


Mbeya Rural District

6. Chimala Scarp FR

7. Chuvwi FR

8. Ihoho FR

9. Irenga FR

10. Irungu L.A. FR

11. Mbeya Range FR

12. Mpara L.A. FR

13. Mporoto Ridge FR

14. Ndugumia L.A. FR

15. Ngalijembe L.A. FR

16. North Usafwa FR

17. Umalila FR


Mbozi District

18. Chumwa RANGE

19. Fonera L.A. FR

20. Isalala FR

21. Ivuna North FR

22. Ivuna South FR

23. Longisonte L.A. FR

24. Ntazu FR


Rungwe District

25. Kitweli FR

26. Kyejo L.A. FR

27. LivingstoneFR

28. Masukulu L.A. FR

29. Rungwe FR

30. Sawago FR


Provisional location map of reserves (printable)


Summary of Catchment Forest Reserves in Mbeya Region

Background Information

The reserves presented in this report are found in 4 districts: Ileje, Mbeya Rural, Mbozi and Rungwe. There are currently 28 gazetted catchment forest reserves in Mbeya Region, 11 of which are local authority reserves. These 28, plus 2 proposed catchment forest reserves are presented here. An additional 30 proposed catchment forests are currently in the process of being gazetted. They are listed in Appendix 3. Due to time constraints, they were not included in the survey.

Nearly all of Mbeya’s catchment forest reserves cover hills, ridges or mountains. The exceptions are IVUNA NORTH and IVUNA SOUTH, located near Lake Rukwa, which are relatively flat. The reserves are part of one or more of the following watersheds: Lake Rukwa in the west, the Great Ruaha River in the north and Lake Nyasa in the south.

Many of these reserves are made up of Montane and Upper Montane forests, and contain some of the last stands of valuable forest timber in Mbeya Region. These timber species include: Entandrophragma sp., Ocotea usambarensis and Podocarpus spp. Though many of these species been heavily exploited in the past they still offer potential for regeneration. This is also the case with some of the timber species in the reserves containing woodland.

Biodiversity values differ among the reserves. In general, they are composed mainly of widespread (non-endemic) vegetation species. Many of the reserves, however, potentially contain important habits for animal species, some of which are rare or endangered. Some of the reserves, RUNGWE for example, contain ecosystems or vegetation types which are not found elsewhere in Mbeya Region. All of the reserves remain poorly investigated in terms of their fauna.

Three reserves: MPOROTO, LIVINGSTONE and RUNGWE, offer the potential as minor tourist attractions with their crater lakes, volcanic geology, wilderness hikes and panoramic views.

All of the reserves are being utilized to some extent, some much more than others. Timber, polewood, fuelwod extraction and charcoal production, as well as livestock grazing and fires, all need to be regulated. This can likely only be achieved if the reserves are managed with the participation of the surrounding communities. If not, the current practices will continue to contribute to the decline of the reserve’s catchment and other values.

Five reserves, CHIMALA SCARP, LIVINGSTONE, MBEYA RANGE, MPOROTO RIDGE and RUNGWE, are the most important reserves in the region. They should be given priority in management as they provide water to tens of thousands of people, including the inhabitants of Mbeya city and the rice farmers of Kyela and the Usangu Plains. These five are also of particular importance to the three watersheds they are a part of.

General management needs for the region:

  • Boundary tree planting and resurveying of reserve boundaries where needed.
  • Gap planting of indigenous tree species in areas where grazing and other forms of encroachment have been excessive.
  • Finalize gazettement of KABULO and ILEJE catchment areas.
  • Transfer management of the 11 local authority reserves to their respective district forestry offices.
  • Open dialogue with communities directly adjacent to the reserves with the aim of informing them of the long term values of the forest and of finding out what their exact needs from the reserves are. And, potentially, determining what forms of community involvement in the protection and management of the catchment forest reserves should take place.
  • Encouraging and facilitating the planting of local woodlots in neighbouring villages by
    assisting with seedling production and planting.
  • Increase forest department presence in the reserves, including placement of forest guards,
    who would, preferably, be people living near the reserves.
  • Control the amount of pitsawing and grazing allowed in the reserves through limited licensing.
  • Develop small scale “nature” tourism in areas of interest, namely MPOROTO, LIVINGSTONE and RUNGWE.
  • The remaining thirty proposed catchment forests should be gazetted and prioritised for management purposes, but only after having involved neighbouring villages in the areas in identifying and finalizing the reserves’ boundaries.

Tanzania Forestry Action Plan Projects related to catchment forestry in Mbeya Region include:

  • CF 6 Community and farm forestry in high potential areas.
  • EC 3 Rungwe Mountain Conservation and Development
  • FI 7 Improvement of pitsawing
  • FM 6 Gazetting of new forest reserves.
  • LH 1 District level sustainable land husbandry improvement in high potential areas.
Item added to cart.
0 Artikel - £0.00
Your Cart