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The Extent and Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem, Kigoma Region, Tanzania

DOI: 10.4236/ojf.2017.72018, PP. 285-305

Keywords: Deforestation, Forest Degradation, Drivers of Deforestation, Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem

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Abstract:

Deforestation and forest degradation has been observed to be rampant in Masito-Ugalla ecosystem, Kigoma Region, western part of Tanzania. This paper therefore, intended to assess the extent of deforestation and forest degradation in the area, and to determine their causes. A total of 101 respondents were considered as the sample size for this study. The methods used for data collection were household questionnaire interviews, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, analysis of satellite images and direct observation. The findings indicated that deforestation was occurring in the study area. Satellite data revealed diminished closed woodland, bushed grassland, forest and thickets between 1990 and 2014. On the contrary, settlement area, cultivated land and open woodland had increased during the same time frame. Proximate factors causing deforestation and forest degradation included agricultural expansion, wood extraction and expansion of settlement area. Underlying factors included population growth, poverty, poor levels of education, lack of employment, corruption and embezzlement of public funds by politicians and senior government officials; and high demand for fuel-wood. Biophysical drivers like incidences of unplanned wildfires and socio trigger events notably civil strife were also important. In order to minimize the problem and based on the factors augmenting deforestation and forest degradation in the Masito-Ugalla ecosystem and their coupled negative consequences, effective environmental conservation education, increased patrols, effective law enforcement and provision of alternative energy sources are necessary.

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