The higher order goal of this project is to identify biodiversity conservation strategies on land surrounding protected forest fragments to determine the least cost approach improving conservation outcomes in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania.
Forest fragmentation threatens biodiversity because many species cannot survive in small, disconnected patches of habitat. Within the biodiversity hot spot of the Eastern Arc mountains, the East and West Usambara Mountains contain many species in a highly fragmented forest. Decades of bird population data demonstrate that the forest fragments will continue to lose bird species even if all remaining forest fragments remain in tact. The matrix of land between these fragments can provide some corridors between fragments but local individuals and communities manage that land for their livelihoods. This project examines policies to promote biodiversity conservation through reducing the impact of forest fragmentation in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. Based on examination of three wildlife corridor policies that varied in approach and in success, this analysis considers local people’s behavior on private and public land in response to conservation policies. The project seeks to construct socioeconomic data from various sources including new surveys with the intent to eventually combine 20 years of detailed bird population data and population models; 15 years of information about land use and responses to forest and land use policy generated by Tanzania Forest Conservation Group and others; and spatial models of land use decisions developed by EfD researchers and others. Supplemented by surveys to determine the recent outcome of projects such as agroforestry, this study will assemble disparate data, identify gaps, and propose conservation prioritization approaches that combine ecological and socio-economic factors. The research will form a foundation and structure for undertaking interdisciplinary research on biodiversity and livelihood outcomes as a result of developing country-specific conservation planning in the future.