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Tanzania coastal high value timber species face extinction: report

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania’s coastal high value species will be exhausted in 30 years from now if the continued degradation of coastal forests remained unchecked, said a new report released on Tuesday.

The continued degradation of the coastal forests was expected to significantly decrease their capacity to provide ecological services and to support livelihoods, said the report entitled: Saving Forests, Changing Lives-Current status and trends in the Tanzanian coastal forests and their woody resources. 

The report was made by WWF Tanzania in collaboration with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburg, and other partners after they jointly conducted a one-year research in 2016 in selected coastal forests in Coast and Lindi regions.

The report said forest surveys showed a progressive and significant decline in the availability of woody resources in the coastal forests between the 1990s and 2016. 

“Logging and charcoal burning continued to spread like waves from Dar es Salaam, targeting resources from high to low value, and spreading at a speed of approximately 10km per year,” said the report. 

It added that the resource extraction had substantial negative impact where between 2005 and 2016 the density of standing trees in reserves surveyed in Coast region was more than halved, and the carbon stored in above-ground biomass decreased by 40 percent. 

“The density of trees suitable as timber dropped threefold, and the density of species with the highest timber value dropped fourfold,” said the report which was funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery in the United Kingdom.

It cited most affected timber species as Milicia excelsa, Brachylaena huillensis, Khaya anthotheca and Pterocarpus angolensis, saying these species have almost been exhausted. 

Antje Ahrends, Head of Genetics and Conservation with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, who was one of the lead authors of the report, said Tanzanian forests were facing big pressure caused by expanding population and growing cities.

She said city growth rate was 5 percent while 90 percent of population was reliant on wood fuels, timber for construction and export. 



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