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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Artisanal gold miners threaten forests in NW Tanzania

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Hectares of natural forests have been cleared by artisanal gold miners in northwestern Tanzania’s district of Mbogwe, posing a serious environmental threat, authorities said on Thursday.

Emmanuel Bwai, Mbogwe District Forest Officer, said the increasing number of small-scale gold miners poses a serious threat to Mbogwe Bukombe Forest Reserve, which is close to Moyowosi and Kigosi Game reserves.

According to Bwai, artisanal gold miners have been cutting down trees for building their mine pits, hence became a challenge towards sustainable forest management.

“We’ve been fighting against the vice, but the fight seems to get out of hands as the speed of deforestation is alarming,” said Bwai.

Charles Tui, Mbogwe District Environmental Officer said: “Apart from arresting the perpetrators, we’ve now resorted to educating them on the use of iron bars in reinforcing their mine pits instead of logs.”

Elias Kayandabila, Mbogwe District Council executive director, said the government planned to plant 1.5 million trees every year to replenish the highly degraded areas from the anthropogenic factors like uncontrolled mining activities.

A forest inventory by the Tanzania Forest Services Agency in 2015 found that forests and wooded areas cover over 48 million hectares of land. It also found that wood remains the main source of fuel for Tanzanians, even in urban areas.

The current deforestation rate in Tanzania is approaching 373,000 hectares every year, making it among the highest in East Africa.

             

 

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