Authored by Brad Czerniak

Malagarasi-Muyovozi Ramsar Site is the largest wetland ecosystem in Tanzania. Since its establishment in 2000, there have been several studies on the biodiversity of the area. Some of these studies have noted a high deforestation rate and overdependence on wetland resources. Unfortunately, findings and recommendations of previous studies have not been shared with the communities. This project used the information from previous studies and an ongoing waterbird monitoring program (funded by Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo) to raise awareness on the importance of the wetlands, threats_and wise use of wetland resources. This project engaged people from the village, ward and district in order to develop a common understanding on the threats and how the wetland resources could be sustainably managed. The three villages targeted by the project Lumbe (Tabora Region), Kasisi and Chagu (in Kigoma Region) border the Ramsar sites and are all linked to the wetland resources through activities such as hunting and fishing. In all three villages, overgrazing is mainly the result of outsiders moving into the area as the communities in the three villages are traditionally farmers and not livestock keepers, although in recent years some families do keep a few livestock. Overfishing and the use of illegal fishing nets has also been reported. The project aimed to establish a beekeeping program in village forest reserves to reduce both overdependence on wetland resources and unsustainable activities such as overgrazing, fire and encroachment in forests. To begin, at least 20 beehives will be set in one of the villages; the overall target is that after few years, all three villages will have benefited by establishing their own beekeeping program. Funds generated from the pilot or initial beekeeping will be put back into similar project in other villages. Training workshops will be organized drawing members from the three target villages; this will be followed by a study tour to communities where beekeeping programs have been successfully integrated with environmental management at wetlands.