USAID intervention boosts Tanzania chimpanzee survival

The ecosystem includes Gombe National Park where world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall conducted her seminal research on wild chimpanzees.

Twenty three years ago the JGI embarked on a community-centred conservation approach through the Lake Tanganyika Catchment, Reforestation and Education Project, which has since expanded into the Gombe-Masito-Ugalla programme.

But, nine years later with assistance from USAID, JGI ventured into an integrated programme in the GMU that introduced communities to sustainable agricultural techniques such as agro-forestry.

The USAID-supported programme has helped local residents earn incomes in new areas, such as establishing tree nurseries and woodlots that produce trees with specific uses for food, medicine, timber and agro-forestry.

USAID’s Tanzania Director of Economic Growth Office, Randy Chester, revealed this in Dar es Salaam yesterday when speaking during the Guardians of Gombe Video Screening and panel discussion.

He said that since 2000, USAID has worked with JGI to protect and restore wildlife habitats in the Greater Gombe Ecosystem—the last remaining habitat for chimpanzees in Tanzania.

“What makes these efforts uniquely successful is active participation of local communities in protecting their natural resources, while at the same time receiving economic benefits from resources,” Chester said.

He further said that from coffee farming, to tree nurseries, to honey production, the JGI had helped thousands of Tanzanians to grow their incomes sustainably without harming the environment.

“As you’ll see in the video today, deforestation is being replaced with reforestation of the landscapes surrounding the Gombe National Park—and consequently the chimpanzee population is no longer declining like it was ten years ago,” he said.

JGI project director of the Gombe-Masito-Ugalla Landscape Project, Emmanuel Mtiti said that since 1996 when the institute started operating in the area more than 300,000 people in two regions that shares the ecosystem—Kigoma and Katavi have been reached with livelihoods and conservation projects in the area.

“Conservation and livelihoods projects introduced in the area are meant to reduce pressure on forest resources hence offer free habitats of chimpanzees,” Mtiti said.

With assistance from the Jane Goodall Institute, a USAID partner, 49 villages in the GMU have created their own land use plans and placed 726 square miles of land under improved land management. Inhabitants are now practicing agroforestry and engaging in environmentally sustainable livelihoods that reduce deforestation and pressures on their natural resources.

The Guardian