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Kiwengwa Indigenous Forest


Conservation benefit: Conservation of 8,213 acres of forest for 20 years

Community benefit: Community training center, signage, environmental education, and apiculture

Date Approved: 06.2018


This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

The Kiwengwa Indigenous Forest, on Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja, is a coral rag forest—one that grows on the rubbly limestone of an ancient coral reef. It is recognized for its high biodiversity. Endemic species include the Zanzibar leopard, Zanzibar red colobus, and Zanzibar bushbaby. There are 47 bird species and 36 species of butterfly. Over 100 plant species are found there, many with high conservation or medicinal value. The forest also contains limestone caves that are important water catchments.

The forest is legally designated as a forest reserve. But it is surrounded by 15 villages and is under pressure from increasing demands for fuel wood, and land for agriculture and development. To protect it, existing regulations must be enforced and new ones developed. This project, submitted by the Tanzania Association of Foresters (our partner for the 2014 Masingini Indigenous Forest project), will engage the communities in management of the forest with local government.

A multipurpose community center, built in the village of Mchekeni (population 300), will facilitate environmental education, outreach, and alternative livelihood training, all of which will help reduce illegal clearing of the forest. Conservation education, stressing forest and water protection, will target six local schools.

The community will also use the center for planning sessions and livelihood trainings. Tourism already provides significant income for community members. The project will teach handicrafts, local dances, and forest tours. Experts will teach improved beekeeping techniques, supporting existing beekeeping efforts. There will be a demonstration apiary, and 40 beehives and honey collection tools will be provided.

Community members will also restore degraded areas of the forest by planting native species in at least 125 acres.

Project Updates

January 2021

The community has used the new center for trainings in livelihood activities including beekeeping, soap and aromatic oil-making, and jewelry crafting. Environmental education activities are ongoing. The representative from our partner NGO reports that in the replanted areas, “Indigenous species have started to colonize the sites. Life is back, birds are singing.”

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December 2019

On the border of the protected forest, where Seacology had funded signage and replanting, a group of squatters had begun to encroach. They had cleared a large area to build structures. A large sign now lists prohibited activities, and the settlement has retreated to outside the protected area.

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August 2019

Seacology staff toured the project site in August with field representative Dishon Murage. The local women’s group, which is making and selling soap and other products, is using the Seacology-funded community center. The community has built nine beehives and plans to deploy up to 50. The forest boundaries are now clearly marked, and enforcement is improving. Despite an unusually dry season, replanted areas are growing rapidly.

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May 2019

The community training center has been built. Twenty-two community members took part in a training on conservation and alternative income activities, including beekeeping. The apiary is being built, and beekeeping supplies have been purchased. Twenty-five individuals took part in a training that discussed the importance of beekeeping, using both apiaries (sheds) and farm lands, and safety. Honey processing and marketing will be covered next. Further livelihood trainings will include soap, essential oil, and pearl making. Leaflets on forest conservation have been distributed to community members, and banners have been produced to draw attention to the forest. Fifteen sign boards with forest regulations will be installed once the Forestry Department chooses locations. Finally, conservation education is underway, with 40 boys and girls getting practical experience and knowledge of the forest.

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February 2019

A project launch was held by the Tanzanian Association of Foresters (TAF) on 9th October, 2018. The occasion was very successful with the District Commissioner in Charge of North Zanzibar attending as the guest of honor. Others guests included the Secretary General for TAF, a former member of Parliament for Zanzibar North, and Tanzanian representatives from the International Olympic Committee. The occasion was auspicious as it marked the launch of the first Forest Marathon in Zanzibar. Nearly 70 marathon runners participated, drawn from local running clubs, the National Youth Service, the police force and Army. In addition, the occasion marked the launch of the Kiwengwa Information Center, construction of which was already 70 percent complete. By mid-November, the building was nearly 90% complete.

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