Forest Degradation

The coastal forests are severely impacted by unregulated exploitation.

Charcoal burning and timber logging have spread far from the main centre of demand, Dar es Salaam. In 1991 the forests close to Dar es Salaam were mainly used for low value charcoal burning. Over 20km away from the city, medium value timber logging prevailed; and at a distance of around 50km forests were still being logged for high value timber. By 2005 the sequence of these ‘waves’ had remained the same, but they had expanded at a rate of approximately 10km per year. Charcoal burning dominated the forests up to 50 km from Dar es Salaam, and the only high value timber that remained was at a distance of at least 200 km. 

The impact on the goods and services provided by the forests was enormous. In the highly degraded forests close to Dar es Salaam carbon storage had dropped almost ten-fold and species density three-fold. Two high value timber species were no longer found.

We predict that at these rates the majority of accessible high value timber in these forests will have disappeared in 30 years. We are currently conducting surveys to establish if, and how far, the waves of degradation have continued to spread.

Degradatation waves

Ahrends et al. (2010) Waves of forest degradation spreading further from Dar es Salaam (DES) between 1991 and 2005