Efforts by Amani Communities to Save the Critically Endangered Long-Billed Forest Warbler in the East Usambara Mountains

Aug 29, 2019 | Latest News

The Long-billed Forest Warbler Artisornis moreaui is a Critically Endangered species mostly found in the interior and in forest edges of East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Climbers and shrubs provide a suitable environment for the warbler to feed on insects and small invertebrates. Farmers living adjacent to the forest edge are taking collective conservation measures to restore this habitat.
Through a Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) funded project, Nature Tanzania is working with local communities from Mbomole and Shebomeza villages to remove Maesopsis eminii an invasive tree and planting indigenous species that are suitable for the survival of the Long-billed Forest Warbler which is estimated to be less than 250 individuals. In addition, some of the farmers who have farms along the forest edge have accepted to leave portion of it to reduce human disturbance. These farmers have received incentives support such as spices and livestock farming from the project to boost their livelihoods. The community led by their local village government leaders has embraced the project by signing contractual agreements with Nature Tanzania.
The CEPF, Nature Tanzania and the local community are working together to save the bird and its habitat. The project is named ‘Sustainable forest edge management for the conservation of the Long-billed Forest Warbler and endemic globally threatened biodiversity of the East Usambara Mountain in Tanzania’. They are restoring and protecting forest edge by stopping cutting vegetation and controlling the Maesopsis eminii tree.The tree inhibits growth of vegetation which provides home to birds. Nature Tanzania and CEPF have been working with other stakeholders to save the bird. These include Muheza District Council, Village Governments, and owners of plots on forest edge.
The people of Mbomole and Shebomeza are now aware of values of the species, thanks to Nature Tanzania’s awareness raising initiatives. Renovation of Mbomole village office was funded by the project as incentive. Twelve farmers who own plots (six Maesopsis and six spice plots) of required criteria received training on spice farming in Shebomeza. Some were provided with spice trees, beehives, cattle or pigs depending on individual choice.
The link among stakeholders has been established during meetings. The link has simplified exchange of knowledge among stakeholders. The spice farming lesson will enable access to profitable market and improvements in household economy. The project has created equal opportunity for both males and females because gender equality has been emphasised. In this case, benefits of the project are equally distributed in the society.
The project activities such as planting the spice and indigenous trees are dependent on the rainfall patterns. However, unpredictable rainfall in recent years is a great challenge to growth of plants. The solution has been to plant trees soon after it starts raining. There is a challenge of diseases facing animals which were provided as incentives. This will be solved by a assigning a veterinary officer who will be visiting the farms for treating the animals.

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