The government has started to take action to reduce human activities around Mount Kilimanjaro which threaten depletion of snow at its peak, the National Assembly was told here yesterday.
Responding to a supplementary question by Ole lawmaker Rajab Mbarouk Mohammed (CUF), deputy minister in the Vice-President’s Office (Environment ) Charles Kitwanga said snow depletion at the mountain's peak was initially reported in 2007 by a group of scientists researching on climate change.
According to the report, snow at the peak had diminished by 80 per cent during the twentieth century. It also showed that if climate change ravages continued for long, the snow cap would totally disappear between 2015 and 2020.
The MP wanted to know measures being taken by the government to rectify the situation which might cost the nation income, particularly tourism earnings since the mountain contributes over 80bn/- to Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) revenue.
Kitwanga said the government, in collaboration with the European Union, had decided to establish a climate change centre in Kilimanjaro region which would conduct research and educate the public on the adverse effects of cutting down trees.
“Already the budget for the proposed centre has been set aside, a survey has been done and we are waiting for detailed designs and project plan before implementation,” he said.
He said the government would continue educating the people living around the mountain on the importance of protecting the environment through the Reduced Emission and Deforestation (REDD) programme which started in 2010.
He said at the international level there had been efforts to encourage developed countries to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide gas from heavy industries by 5.8 per cent as agreed by the United Nation’s Forum for Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Kyoto protocol.
Earlier, Special seats legislator Betty Machangu (CCM) wanted the government to explain measures being taken to reduce deforestation and increase human resources and working equipment in Kilimanjaro region.
Responding, deputy minister for Tourism and Natural Resources Lazaro Nyalandu said the rate of deforestation in the country had been growing at an alarming rate.
Citing an example, he said up to last month a total of 30 hectares of forests in Kindoroko, Minja, Kamwala and Chambogo wards in Kilimanjaro region had been destroyed by fire.
He said 15 hectares in the Rau forest reserve had been invaded for agriculture and tree cutting, contrary to the law, hence contributing to the destruction of the environment around Mountain Kilimanjaro.
However, minister Nyalandu said the government would not hesitate to take stern measures against any forest officers at different levels who would go against stipulated laws to preserve forests.
“Our Ministry will carry out an assessment in the said areas to see whether officials were involved when the deforestation,” he affirmed.
He said in the year 2011 the government established Tanzania Forest Aagency Services (TFS) to manage and develop forests.
He noted that the agency would employ forest rangers and provide them with modern equipment to help them bring down the rate of deforestation.