Uzungwa Scarp-Kilombero NR (Mngeta Corridor)

Region: Iringa , Morogoro
Type: E - Potential connectivity of important habitats.
Threat: Critical - probably less than 3 years remaining.
Kilombero Valley, showing Udzungwa-Selous (Nyangange and Ruipa) and Uzungwa Scarp-Kilombero NR (Mngeta) Corridors.
Kilombero Valley, showing Udzungwa-Selous (Nyangange and Ruipa) and Uzungwa Scarp-Kilombero NR (Mngeta) Corridors.

Kilombero Valley, showing Udzungwa-Selous (Nyangange and Ruipa) and Uzungwa Scarp-Kilombero NR (Mngeta) Corridors.

Description

The Mngeta corridor links the Uzungwa Scarp FR (USFR, 200 km2) to the united network of northern Udzungwa forests (protected as Udzungwa Mountains NP and Kilombero Nature Reserve, totalling 3335 km2).

USFR has forest cover at elevations of 300-2000 m and is one of the largest and most important single forest blocks in the whole Eastern Arc, according to the number of forest endemics and provision of ecosystem services. Its progressive insularisation from the northern network of protected areas can only be reversed through maintaining forest connectivity. The corridor has been identified from recently conducted ground and aerial surveys. It is composed of public land (government land) and borders village land (including proposed PFM schemes).

The corridor length between protected areas is 9.2 - 15.2 km, the width 2.1 - 6.8 km, and the area is estimated at 63 km2. As much as 80% of the corridor appears to be covered by natural vegetation (grass, shrubs, woodlands or forest), including approximately 25% under natural forest and woodland. Some parts of the proposed corridor are very steep and covered with mixed grassland, shrubs and low-canopy forest. Only about 20% appears occupied by recent and seasonal farms. It is estimated that less than 100 households live in the corridor area.

Wildlife

The Udzungwa Mountains contain the largest blocks of moist forests and the greatest amount of biodiversity in the Eastern Arc.

It is one of the most important areas in Africa for primate conservation. Uzungwa Scarp FR, in particular, hosts endangered and endemic forest mammals, namely the Sanje mangabey (only found there and in the northern Mwanihana forest), Udzungwa red colobus and Abbott’s duiker, as well as several other vertebrates. Some of these are also found in Iyondo forest, the nearest forest to the north linked to USFR by the Mngeta corridor.

Reports of Sanje mangabeys in Iyondo forest have not yet been confirmed but would support the hypothesis that the two forests were once more widely connected.

Threats

Ever-increasing, documented rates of human immigration in the southern Kilombero valley in search of land for farming represent the most serious threat to the persistence of the Mngeta corridor.

With the Kilombero valley being progressively saturated it is likely that the number of people settling in the corridor area will increase, which will rapidly diminish the chances of protecting the area.

Protection of the Mngeta Corridor, along with more efficient management of Uzungwa Scarp, was one of the key recommendations that the Government endorsed following the Udzungwa stakeholders’ meeting held in 2007.