New land purchase to create botanical garden in Tanzania

23Oct 2019
Correspondent
The Guardian
New land purchase to create botanical garden in Tanzania

RAINFOREST Trust and the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) have purchased a 9-acre property near the Magombera Forest Reserve in central Tanzania.

Local NGO Reforest Africa will partner with TFCG to turn the site into a new botanical garden. The three organizations have already worked together to protect Magombera, spanning over 6,000 acres of habitat for species like African Elephants and the Endangered Udzungwa Red Colobus monkey, earlier this year. But unlike most land purchases Rainforest Trust supports, this parcel isn’t simply a reserve extension.

In addition to preserving existing habitat, this property will be a botanical garden connected to Magombera Nature Reserve’s conservation efforts.

The new botanical garden aims to use native plant species for education, research and conservation. In particular, TFCG and Reforest Africa hope the property can be a seed bank for plant species at risk of going extinct in the wild. They plan to have the garden up and running late next year and potentially expand it though future land purchases.

This garden is an evolution from Rainforest Trust’s typical land protection efforts. But the vision and mission for the garden — to expand long-term socio-ecological sustainability of the Magombera Forest Reserve through conservation, research and education — fits in perfectly with Rainforest Trust’s mission on every project.

“The botanical garden is a unique initiative with many potential benefits for both biodiversity and people,” said Katie Pugh, Rainforest Trust’s Africa Conservation Officer. “Now that a tract of land has been purchased, we’re excited to watch it evolve.”

The botanical garden will strengthen Magombera Nature Reserve’s ongoing conservation efforts. Besides elephants and colobus monkeys, the area is home to carnivores like Leopards and, as of a recent sighting, Endangered African Wild Dogs. The reserve is also an important corridor between Udzungwa Mountains National Park and Selous Game Reserve, two expansive protected areas in central Tanzania. As deforestation has cleared over half of the Magombera forest landscape, the reserve is an important stronghold for the wildlife and communities who rely on an intact ecosystem.

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