These colorful, lively and fun events also aim to raise local community members’ awareness about the importance of the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya – two distinct, but intrinsically linked habitats that provide more than 3.5 million Tanzanians with water and house hundreds of species found nowhere else on Earth.
Since 2004, CEPF investment in this region has focused on improving human well-being through alternative livelihood development, increasing scientific knowledge and reducing the extinction risk for 333 globally threatened species. To help ensure these gains are sustained into the future, CEPF provided support to the TFCG to raise awareness about the importance of the countries’ forests and natural resource base and the ecosystem services they provide.
Held in collaboration with the Mufindi District Council, TFCG’s event focused on forest values, threats and related governance issues.
More than 5,000 people participated, and all of the participating villages received fruit tree seedlings to plant. Attendees included the Tanzania Forest Conservation Board of Directors; the Mufindi District commissioner; the Mufindi District executive director; a MJUMITA representative; TFCG staff; primary and secondary school students; division, ward and village leaders and community members from the Kipanga, Ihimbo, Uhafiwa and Ukami villages.
Attendees celebrated by planting trees, inspecting and cleaning water sources and participating in competitions pertaining to art, drama and music.
“We were able to spread conservation messages to a large number of people using drama, art and music,” said Elisa Pallangyo, environmental education officer with the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group. “After the event we received calls from community members commending us for spreading the message effectively.”
The main objective of the competitions was to raise awareness about the WED 2013 theme “Think. Eat. Save. Reduce Your Footprint.” This conservation message was disseminated to the community, schools, institutions, leaders, politicians and the government staff of the Mufindi District and the nation at large. National media also spread the message through newspapers, radio and television.
Community members and local leaders also came together to discuss the importance of conserving the Udzungwa Mountain forests and renewing commitments to work more closely together to tackle the challenges of illegal logging and hunting in the area.
According to Pallangyo, “It is our belief that people from this area will be able to better manage and conserve the forest biodiversity and environment, taking into consideration the abundance of forest and biodiversity threats.”