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Stanford University

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

Abstract

Background. The environmental health of Uzi Island, south of Unguja, Zanzibar, has not been well characterized and its inhabitants do not have the resources for conservation education or community management to prevent deforestation, establish sustainable resource use and preserve unique wildlife. One potential method to improve environmental conservation and economic stability is through culturally sensitive and appropriately scaled ecotourism. Methods. Vegetation and wildlife surveys were conducted to evaluate the current condition of forests, regeneration in successional habitats, the presence of endemic and endangered wildlife species, and the impact of human activity on the forests of Central Uzi and Vundwe Island. Local attitudes of Uzi villagers towards conservation and tourism were assessed through interviews. Results. The forest of Central Uzi was found to have been devastated in recent years by fires and conversion of the land to agriculture with 58% of stems cut or burned. Vundwe is exhibiting unsustainable wood cutting and increased human disturbance with a 4% increase in cut stems from four years ago. Similarly, wildlife presence, forest disturbance and human activity appear to be adversely effecting populations of red colobus monkeys, blue duiker, and suni antelope. Interviews of Uzi villagers demonstrated a wide range of attitudes about potential approaches to conservation and the benefit or harm of tourism as a means to support environmental protection and economic stability. A range of attitudes existed about the potential benefit or harm of tourism as one approach to supporting environmental protection and economic stability. Conclusions. A significant negative impact of human activity on forest preservation was found, as well as potentially diminished populations of colobus monkeys, blue duiker and suni antelope, representative of the unique mammalian fauna of Zanzibar. Although some understanding of the impact of environmental degradation on societal health and economic development was apparent in interviews with villagers, there were mixed attitudes on the positive value of environmental protection and the potential for ecotourism as a method to promote conservation and economic benefit. Ongoing formal assessment of forest and wildlife is recommended, as is forest regeneration (of both mangrove and coral rag), and the establishment of focus groups and environmental education to determine the optimal approaches to environmental and economic sustainability, which are closely intertwined.

Disciplines

Environmental Monitoring | Natural Resources Management and Policy

 

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