Kwamtili Estate, Tanzania, is loosing its forest cover

This report of the forest cover loss on Kwamtili Estate near Tanga, Tanzania, was prepared in 2014. An update is being prepared for release in April 2016.

A description of Kwamtili Estate is given in a blog item. As for this forest loss report, this description will be updated in early-2018.


Fig. 1a - The boundaries of Kwamtili Estate (in red) overlaid upon the WWF forest management map of 2006. The Kwamtili Estate's cocoa processing factory is marked by the red dot and its western boundary (not marked) by the Muzi River, a major tributary of the Zigi River that supplies Tanga, Tanzania's second largest town, that is situated on the coast (see the text below for the designated colour codings). The areas experiencing severe deforestation are in light blue.

Land use

A 2006 map (Fig. 1a) taken from the World Wildlife Foundation report Key forest gaps for improved landscape planning and restoration in the East Usumbara Mountains (link no linger available) shows that the Kwamtili Estate covers an area designated "natural forest" (in light green in the figure) that is bordered along most of the western, northern and eastern boundaries by areas designated "Smallholder rainfed herbaceous crop" (pink-coloured hatching in the figure).

Kwamtili terrain

Fig. 1b - Terrain map of Kwamtili Estate. The estate's factory is marked by the red dot and the estate's largely inaccessible, forest-covered mountain to the south-south-east rises to a peak of 840m on the boundary with the forest reserve.

The estate is situated along the western side of a chain of mountains (see Fig. 1b) that rises to 840m at the centre of the estate.

Note that Kwamtili extends out of the map to the north and that the western boundary is the Muzi River. The Muzi River passes through the village of Seluka. Seluka is a few hundred metres to the west of the Kwamtili Estate's factory (marked by the red dot on the map, with Google Maps' coordinates-4.922653,38.733845).

Seluka and the factory are linked by a road that crosses the Muzi River at a ford. The same road, marked in red on Fig. 1a, leaves the estate to the north-west and connects to the district road system.

A part of the estate is marked in dark green on the map as "Kwamgumi Forest Reserve". In fact the boundary of the reserve lies along Kwamtili's southern boundary. The 226,256 hectare Kwamgumi Forest Reserve has one of the highest species richness recorded in the East Usambaras (in 1995 it had the highest number of mammals then recorded and was second only to Mtai Forest Reserve in terms of botanical species richness).

There was in fact a proposal to extend the forest reserve (see 1989 IUCN publication Forest Conservation in the East Usambara Mountains) and the map of Fig. 1a is based on this report. More recently (see East Usambara Conservation Area Management Programme - EUCAMP, Technical Report 40, 1999 Kwamgumi Forest Reserve: A biodiversity survey, it was reported that "The forest in this part of the estate is in the process being gazetted as an extension of Kwamgumi Forest Reserve. " This process has not been concluded.

Nevertheless a considerable portion of Kwamtili comprises natural forest of the same type as that makes up the adjoining forest reserve.

Kwamtili Google Earth

Fig. 2 - This Google Earth image shows that the area of Kwamtili Estate to the north of the factory (marked by a red dot) now mainly comprises smallholder plots.

A second point to note is that in the north there has been considerable encroachment and the leasing of Kwamtili land to smallholders. This shows up in the latest Google Earth map (Fig. 2, where the red dot at the bottom of the image marks the Kwamtili Estate's factory.) . Consequently, the map of Fig. 1a indicates with pink dots on green the area that should now also be designated as "Smallholder rainfed herbaceous crop".

Kwamtili's cocoa trees are located in the forest area (coloured in green in Fig. 1a) between the dark green "forest reserve" area to the east, the Muzi River to the west and the smallholder plots to the north. This area covers about 2000m (east-west) by 2500m (north-south), i.e., about 500 hectares, with the cocoa growing in patches of various sizes under the forest canopy.

The WWF report focused on how to link the forest areas, notably the Kwamgumi and Segoma Forest Reserves to the Semdoe Forest Reserve in the west (see Fig. 1a).

Kwamtili is not directly concerned because it lies to the north of the Kwamgumi/Segoma - Semdoe "gap" ) coloured yellow-green on the map of Fig. 1a) that is centred on the village of Kwamgumi.

Nonetheless, interest in closing the gap and maintaining the East Usumbara forest system will be reduced considerably if Kwamtili's forest disappears.

Kwamtil Forest

Fig. 3 - The Forest Cover Loss Map (2012) for the Kwamtili area with Kwamtili Estate's boundaries given approximately by the blue line and its western boundary (not marked) by the Muzi River. The blue dot marks the estate's factory and areas that have suffered loss of forest cover are given by the red dots.

Forest cover

The Forest Cover Loss map (Fig. 3) from Global Forest Change for 2000 to 2012 shows a considerable loss of forest cover (areas of red dots). 'Forest Loss' is defined as a stand-replacement disturbance, or a change from a forest to non-forest state.

The three principle areas of the loss of forest cover are indicated in light blue on the WWF map (Fig. 1a). They are:

  • across the Muzi River from the estate and around the village of Sekela (the estate's factory is marked in blue in Fig. 3);
  • in the zone to the north where the smallholders encroach upon the Kwamtili forest area;
  • in the middle section of the southern border with the Kwamgumi Forest Reserve.

The activity close to the village and the interaction zone are easily understood. More disturbing is the intense logging activity deep in the forest reserve along Kwamtili's southern border.

The Google Maps image shows organised activity at -4.932789,38.74783. This needs investigation. It may be related to continued logging in the forest reserve, which was allowed until the early 1990's, and to illegal pit saw workings reported in the EUCAMP 1999 Technical Report 40.

Report prepared June 2014. To be updated in early-2018.

Phone: +41792989666
Skype: live:petergboswell
WhatsApp: PeterBoswellcom
Messenger: petergboswell
Telegram: PeterBoswellBot