Geology Reference
In-Depth Information
14 The conservation of the forest
resources of easten Africa: past
influences, present practices and
future needs
rather lengthy discussion of conservaion needs,
in what are intended as pracical terms. I make
little apology for length: there is a dearth of infor-
maion on inputs for forest conservaion; East
Africa's conservaion movement has been rather
srongly focused on the larger mammals in the
past. The irony is hat whilst the suvival of the
mammals is a luxury, the forests are essenial for
our survival! This is increasingly understood by
many adminisrators and planners; in Tanzania
this has led to the recent preparaion of new forest
policies and acion plans for long-term sustain-
able use and conservaion of the forest resources.
Unfortunately, this realisaion has coincided with
a period of extreme economic diiculy. There
are no funds to implement the provisions of new
and enlightened policies. Forest conservaion
inputs will therefore depend largely on foreign aid
assistance in the coming decade. This chapter
may help stress to donor organisaions the necess-
iy for such assistance.
Merely understanding the biology of easten Afri-
ca's closed forests is not sufficient if we wish to
maintain the resource as a uncional natural
community for posteriy. Conservaion needs
acion: it needs management inputs into both the
resource itself and the human populaions who
depend on the resources for their livelihood and
in so doing often degrade the resource. There is
sill a need for bioloy, however, especially or a
resource as complex as the ropical forests, where
even the idenificaion of the component species
remains problemaical.
We are winessing the loss of forests and loss of
forest species all over the tropics; easten Africa is
no excepion, but here we have had only a small
and fragmented resource base of forest to start
with. These forests are important for water catch-
ment and imber, and their area is coveted for
agricultural development. Pressures on the forest
land are growing and are often incompaible. It is
a sad paradox that now, in the 1990s, we often
know how we could achieve conservaion and how
we can share the 'cake', but we often lck the
political and inanial wil to do so.
This chapter traces the histoy of land use in
the orest areas in easten Africa, and examines
the causes of incompaibility between land usages,
and some theoreical and pracical implicaions
for conservaion. The chapter concludes with a
The historical patten of land use in
orested areas
he precolonial peiod
Palaeoecologists and prehistorians have inter-
preted the changing climate and vegetaion cover
of the late Pleistocene and Holocene periods in
easten Africa (see Hamilton, 1982 or a ull
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