The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Tanzania gets a New Man and Biosphere Reserve in Kilwa

The Rufiji Mafia Kilwa area has been designated as one of the newest man and biosphere reserves in Tanzania, becoming the sixth biosphere reserve in the country.

Rufiji Mafia and Kilwa ecosystem abbreviated as RUMAKI joins more than 748 reserves across 134 countries.

That is according to an official statement issued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from Paris, France as shared by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Rufiji-Mafia-Kibiti-Kilwa Biosphere Reserve

Officially known as Rufiji-Mafia-Kibiti-Kilwa Biosphere Reserve, Rumaki is located in Lindi (Kwila District) and Pwani (Rufiji, Mafia and Kibiti Districts) of Tanzania.

The area is predominately a complex coastal–marine ecosystem that includes the first marine protected area in Tanzania, the Mafia Island Marine Park (1994).

It comprises an outstanding mosaic of tropical marine habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and intertidal areas that support populations of turtles, migrating birds, dolphins and whale sharks.

The RUMAKI seascape is recognized as being the most biologically productive and diverse marine area in Tanzania and East Africa as a whole.

The biosphere reserve contains two cultural World Heritage sites which, along with Mafia Island, are the best-known tourist destinations in the biosphere reserve.

Alongside tourism, small-scale and semi-industrial fisheries are among the main livelihoods for the biosphere reserve’s population of more than 229,000.

UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Program has approved the designation of 10 new biosphere reserves in nine countries, and one trans-boundary biosphere reserve across two countries.

With these new designations, the World Network now totals 748 sites in 134 countries, including 23 trans-boundary sites.

“UNESCO biosphere reserves are tangible proof that humanity can live in balance with nature. Since 1971, this community-led program has successfully found a model for development where people live well, and biodiversity is respected. I am pleased that this year, 11 more sites are joining this powerful network, which is more relevant and necessary than ever!”

Audrey Azoulay – Director-General of UNESCO.

East Africa has managed to get two new biosphere sites accreditations, the other one being a trans-boundary ecosystem.

Mount Elgon Transboundary Biosphere Reserve

Mapped across Kenya and Uganda, the Mount Elgon Transboundary Biosphere Reserve sets itself apart in cutting across two national territories.

The designation of the Mount Elgon Transboundary Biosphere Reserve consolidates the water tower functions of the Mount Elgon Biosphere Reserve in Kenya (2003) and the Mount Elgon Biosphere Reserve in Uganda (2005).

It provides a range of ecosystem functions and supports forests, wildlife and livelihoods in the area.

The other new Man and Biosphere Reserves in the latest listing are listed as follows:

  • Cameroon: Korup Rainforest Biosphere Reserve
  • Central African Republic: Protected Area Complex of Northeast Central African Republic Biosphere Reserve,
  • Colombia: Tribugá-Cupica-Baudó Biosphere Reserve
  • Germany: Drömling Biosphere Reserve
  • Indonesia: Bantimurung Bulusaraung – Ma’Rupanne Biosphere Reserve
  • Mongolia: Onon-Balj Biosphere Reserve
  • Pakistan: Chitral Bashkar Garmchashma Biosphere Reserve
  • Pakistan: Gallies Biosphere Reserve
  • Peru: Bicentenario-Ayacucho Biosphere Reserve

Other Biosphere Reserves in Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the countries implementing the Biosphere Reserves concept which was first conceived and adopted in 1981.

It started with the establishment of two Biosphere Reserves; the Lake Manyara and Serengeti-Ngorongoro MABs in 1981.

Later the East Usambara mountains range was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 2000.

In 2016 the Jozani Chwaka Bay became the first Biosphere Reserve in Zanzibar endorsed during the fourth world park congress on BRs in Lima Peru.

In July 2018 the Gombe-Masito-Ugalla (GMU) was endorsed to be a Biosphere Reserve during the 30th Man and Biosphere ICC General Assembly in Indonesia.

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