As part of the Leeds4Trees initiative, the Forest of Leeds, will be twinned with ecologically important forests in the East Usambara region of Tanzania.
Leeds4Trees is a collaboration between LEAF, the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC), and Leeds City Council. This twinning partnership will be mutually beneficial, raising vital funds for conservation efforts in Tanzania as well as enhancing the educational potential of local visitor attractions.
Tanzania is home to unparalleled wildlife and abundant natural resources, but despite solid economic growth in recent years remains 159 out of 187 countries ranked in terms of human development.
The East Usambara Mountains lie within the Eastern Arc of Tanzania, a biodiversity hotspot which has been compared to the Galapagos Islands due to the high number of species that are unique to the area. The Eastern Arc Mountains are also one of WWF’s conservation priority ‘Global Ecoregions’, designed to include the most biodiverse areas on Earth. The slopes of the Eastern Arc Mountains receive a large amount of rainfall, making them an attractive place to farm. As a result, approximately three quarters of the forests in the Eastern Arc Mountains have been lost and converted to farmland over the past century.
The Forests of East Usambara
Over 100 species of plants and animals are confined to the East Usambara region specifically, including 2 critically endangered (the Long-billed Tailorbird and the Amani Forest Frog), 12 endangered and 19 vulnerable species, as classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In the East Usambara region, deforestation rates still remain high outside of legally protected forest reserves. Reducing deforestation here means helping local communities find alternative livelihoods that do not rely on unsustainable use of the land.
The Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) have made it their mission to conserve, and restore, the biodiversity of Tanzania’s globally important forests. TFCG have been operating for 30 years and are the leading Tanzanian NGO for forest conservation.
TFCG take a number of approaches to conserving the forests in the East Usambara region. Firstly, by establishing forest reserves they are increasing the area of forests that are legally protected from deforestation. Secondly, TFCG assist in the provision of alternative livelihoods for the local communities; this is key since many local people rely on unsustainable use of the nearby forests.
The Amani Butterfly Project is an innovative project, operated by TFCG that reduces deforestation by providing villagers with an alternative livelihood through the farming and marketing of native butterflies. As part of our Forest Twinning programme, Tropical World in Roundhay Park will be welcoming some new Tanzanian butterflies to its collection during 2017! Find out more about the Amani Project by watching the video below.