Land use and livelihood changes in the mount Rungwe ecosystem, Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
The Mount Rungwe ecosystem (MRE) has unique mountain resources. Its biological, hydrological, economic and cultural endowments offer many development opportunities for Tanzania. Since the 1970s, the MRE has experienced change in land use and means of acquiring livelihoods, calling for scientific investigation into the extent, nature, and magnitude of land use changes and their implications for communities’ livelihoods. The aim of the study was to investigate the major changes in land use, to identify the drivers responsible for these changes and to establish the interrelationship between land use change and communities’ livelihoods in order to suggest desirable management options towards improving rural livelihoods and the ecological integrity of MRE. A research design that integrates both qualitative and quantitative approaches was adopted. The fieldwork involved six villages representative of three ecological zones and 384 respondents were interviewed. Information on the past and present land uses, policies, institutions and processes that have influenced and are influencing land use change in the area was obtained through questionnaires, interviews, field observation, and analysis of documents. Satellite imagery of 1973, 1986, 1991 and 2010 were analysed for spatial and temporal statistics on land use and change. The findings indicate that MRE is experiencing land conversions from one land use category to the other especially in villages of the highland zone. Government policies on the use of and access to forests, agricultural land and energy have contributed to the past and current land use changes. Demographic, cultural, economic and natural factors singly or cumulatively have also induced changes in land use in MRE. Most of the changes in land use were noted between 1991 and 2010. At the district level there was a significant decrease in natural vegetation, particularly bushland and woodland, and an increase in cultivated land. Intensification of agricultural land use was more in the villages of the highland zone than in the middle land and lowland zones. Villages of the lowland zone showed a decline of cultivated land area, particularly in the tree crops category, and a constant or declining trend of the natural vegetation coverage - especially grasslands and woodlands. To reduce unplanned farm expansions into areas of natural vegetation, it is recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture should re-emphasise intercropping practices and provide extension services targeting crops such as potatoes and bananas which are now commercialised. This would be a step towards improving agricultural land productivity and addressing local food security. The ministry of Energy and Minerals could finance the ongoing tree planting efforts by local communities and enhance the use of more efficient charcoal stoves so as not only to protect the remaining forests but also as a way of diversifying the communities’ livelihoods. Key words: land use, land use change, livelihoods, driving forces, Mount Rungwe ecosystem, Tanzania, Landsat images, GIS.
Available in printed form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF HD987.T54)
Land use, Land use change, Livelihoods, Mount Rungwe ecosystem, Landsat images
Tilumanywa, V. T (2013) Land use and livelihood changes in the mount Rungwe ecosystem, Tanzania, Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.