This project aims to promote the importance of the marine ecosystem and sustainable use of natural resources to the Mafia Island coastal community through environmental education and awareness. By providing regular workshops for various stakeholders, distributing educational material in the community and creating education programmes, we are raising awareness on the current state of Mafia Island Marine Park, while safeguarding it for the future. Our aims are to increase knowledge and understanding among several stakeholder groups, and implement an environmental awareness program on Mafia Island, fulfilling the objectives outlined in the General Management Plan for the Mafia Island Marine Park (MIMP).
At present, staff and volunteers have been involved in a variety of projects to increase public awareness of the marine environment and work closely with local communities. These involve working with students at the local schools at regular environmental awareness days where children are taught about the marine environment, pollution and specific species at risk from a young age. We are also working with MIMP staff on our marine surveys and hope to provide further training for MIMP representatives and other local people later this year.
Frontier Tanzania Marine Research Programme (TZM) continues to be an important part of the community of Mafia Island, providing a valuable collaboration with Mafia Island Marine Park and contributing to the secondary education of local school students. The TZM project is well respected and contributes significantly to raising awareness of the marine environment amongst local people.
The area near Frontier-Tanzania's Sayari camp, as well as the entire Kilombero valley, is changing rapidly. Population growth for Tanzania is high at 2.88% and many people are immigrating to the Kilombero valley. The valley's main appeal is for agriculture. The fertile flood plain is ideal for growing rice, and the government is currently promoting the area for cultivation. This growth is rapidly eroding wildlife habitat and is at odds with the preservation of this RAMSAR site. The conflict between rural livelihoods and preserving the regions biodiversity is imminent. Gaining a better understanding of the human population's values and conflicts with natural resources in the region is essential for developing appropriate and realistic management plans that can provide a sustainable land use balance.
We have been conducting social surveys as part of our Darwin Initiative project to develop cohesive and sustainable management plans for the Ruipa Corridor. The aim of these surveys is to understand local people's livelihoods and their knowledge, use and values of wildlife and natural resources. We are surveying farmers as well as village leaders and local people in the region.
The Kilombero Valley is becoming well known for its inexpensive, productive and easily acquired land. The influx of outsiders to the Kilombero is apparent from our data; 75% of interviewees had immigrated to the area. As more and more farmers immigrate into the area the ambiguity of village boundaries becomes more of a problem and many farmers end up setting up farms that exceed allocated size or in areas that are designated as forest or not within the village boundaries.
Our survey work has also revealed that many newcomers to the area have little or no knowledge of village land management plans and the management plans that do exist are often unrealistic, impractical, or do not preserve the areas of forest most at risk.
Large mammals are increasingly being seen as a threat as more and more land is taken up for farm use and established migration routes are encroached upon. This means wildlife is passing close to villages and farms and can cause considerable damager.
By combining our work in large mammal surveying and biodiversity monitoring with these social surveys we aim to work with local villages to devise sustainable plans for the future of this land. Through participatory planning we will help to develop new management plans using the data we are continuously collecting. We are also preparing a series of workshops for the local village people and farmers to help ensure that their understanding and use of natural resources is sustainable for both the communities and the environment. Working with local schools in the region we are teaching a comprehensive programme of environmental awareness and education in order to further increase the sustainability of our work. Similarly we are training members of the village council, district natural resources office and students from the university in basic monitoring and surveying techniques in order to enable them to continue this work in the future.