Conserving Manyara National Park Indirectly through Conservation of Trees and Forests in the Karatu Highlands
Lake Manyara National Park is situated along the escarpment at the foot of the great East African Rift Valley, and it receives its water from Karatu Highlands catchment areas. Therefore, conservation of the Karatu Highlands catchment areas is very important for the health of the lake and the national park’s flora and fauna.
Recently, the Spring 2019 semester students from the SFS Center for Wildlife Management Studies in Tanzania held a field excursion to Karatu to witness various initiatives being done by Karatu residents to conserve trees and forests. These were designed so that Lake Manyara and the park could continue to get enough water for the forests, wildlife, and aquatic organisms. During this trip, students visited Bashay Village’s environmental education training center and a village tree nursery. There they heard a lecture on the importance of tree conservation and tree nursery management and also visited the nursery to observe tree seedling tending.
Students at a lecture by Mr. Stanley Mruma, Bashay Village conservation training center
Afterwards, they visited the Bashay primary school to learn about the use and benefits of firewood-saving stoves. The school cooks explained that previously, they were using open three-stones cooking stoves that consumed seven times more firewood than the current firewood-saving stove. The students also visited some homesteads to see the bio-gas plant for cooking. Students got an opportunity to visit a site that makes building bricks from a mixture of soil, sand and cement instead of firewood-burnt bricks. All these initiatives are geared toward reducing the number of trees that are cut for firewood, hence conserving trees and forests that are important in water conservation and the reduction of surface run-off water. Higher surface run-off erodes the soils and can cause siltation in the lower lands i.e. Lake Manyara.
Mr. Mruma explaining the use of open three-stone stoves to a group of students at Bashay primary school in Karatu
Students learn about the firewood-saving stoves at Bashay primary school in Karatu
All in all, this field excursion taught the students a lot about the value of forests and tree conservation initiatives in the Karatu Highlands and their importance to the health of Lake Manyara National Park.