Monitoring the Health of Selected Eastern Arc Forests in Tanzania

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African Journal of Ecology



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The eastern arc mountains (EAMs) are a chain of isolated mountains (534,000 ha) in Kenya and Tanzania surrounded by arid woodlands and influenced by the Indian Ocean. In 1900 there was three times the amount of forest cover there is today. Much of the original forests have been converted into agricultural crops. These mountains are recognized as a globally important 'hot spot' by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Conservation of Union (IUCN) for forest biodiversity and are major national, regional and local sources of hydropower, water and wide array of forest-based benefits and agricultural production. In February 2000 we began a 3-year evaluation of forest health, land-use change and information sharing in the EAMs. Permanent sample plots were used to evaluate forest health. This paper summarizes the baseline data from eighteen permanent sample plots in the east Usambara's and nine in Ulugurus. The eastern arc web site ( was established, continues to expand and contains some detailed information on the project. Information gathered will assist land managers, planners, policy makers, interested communities (villages) and individuals in decision-making. These data can also provide an early warning system of stresses on forest catchments.