The Forests of Lindi Region

Lindi Region is the largest and least known of the three regions covered by the Status Reports. Although most of the forest reserves in Lindi Region can be expected to contain Coastal Forest, only the six forest reserves covered by this volume of the Status Reports, together with Pindiro Forest Reserve, Ngarama Forest Reserve, Nyangamara forest, and the forest patches in the Selous Game Reserve and Matumbi Hills have been recently visited by biologists. Many other forest patches must exist, both within and outside the formal protection of Forest Reserves.

The fauna and flora of Lindi Region is still poorly known, and most species records are from the detailed collections of a few scientists, in particular by Busse, Schlieben, Loveridge, Ionides and Vollesen. In spite of being under collected, Lindi Region is acknowledged to be rich in endemic species, especially reptiles, plants and amphibians. It is for this reason that Status Reports for Ruawa and Ndimba Forest Reserves have been included in this volume, even though these forests have been only briefly visited by the Frontier-Tanzania Coastal Forest Research Programme.

These reports follow a similar format to the “Management Summaries” as used in the Forest Reserve section of this site. The more detailed information on the biological values of the forest has been included and the “Management Proposals” section has been replaced with a commentary on the conservation issues relevant to each forest.

The suggested citation for these reports is: Clarke, G.P. (1995) Status Reports for 6 Coastal forests in Lindi Region, Tanzania. Frontier Technical Report No. 18. The Society for Environmental Exploration, U.K./University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Chitoa Forest Reserve

Litipo Forest Reserve

Ndimba Forest Reserve

Rondo Forest Reserve

Ruawa Forest Reserve

Tong’omba Forest Reserve

Other known and possible Coastal Forests in Lindi Region include the following (in approximately north to south order) :

Kilwa District

Kitope Forest Reserve (8°20’S, 39°10’E) contains approximately 8 square km of forest which occurs mainly on the south side of Kitope Hill. The forest has yet to be studied for its biological values, but as it occurs at 100-230 m elevation, 7 km from the coast it can be expected to reveal some interesting species. Efforts are currently underway by the regional and district Forestry Offices to settle a boundary encroachment dispute, and to then clear the boundaries and plant exotic tree species as boundary markers.

Old records in the Forestry office in Dar es Salaam indicate that the Naminangu Forest Reserve has now been incorporated into the Kitope Forest Reserve. Naminangu means ‘place of the Gum Copal trees’ in the Kimatumbi language, which must indicate that this species is here, and therefore that forest is also present. The reserve was gazetted during the German administration.

Mbinga Forest Reserve (8°30’S – 8°32’S, 38°49′ – 38°51’E) on the southern scarp edge of the Matumbi Hills contains about 6 square km of secondary evergreen thicket and low forest (canopy to 4 m on Kimate Hill) with scattered mvule Milicia excelsa in the north (Kilwa District Forestry Office records). Riverine forest is also present along the watercourses. This forest is probably similar to that on the Kichi Hills and in Namakutwa-Nyamuete forest (see Status Reports for 12 Coastal Forests in Coast Region).

The Nangoma Caves (located between Nandete and the Mbinga Forest Reserve, at approximately 8°30’S, 38°52’E) contain a small patch of forest around the sink-hole mouth of the caves. This forest is the type locality for the rare amphibian Spelaeophryne methneri. The forest here was more extensive in 1910 when it was first visited by the Germans.

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Mitarure Forest Reserve (8°50’S – 9°06’S, 39°00’E – 39°10’E) is described by the Kilwa District forestry records as containing miombo with ‘good green thicket in places’ and was included in the 1961 Southern Province Enumeration Project when it was found to contain ‘mature mninga’. The forest reserve also contains a 4 acre trial plot of mninga Pterocarpus angolensis that was established in 1968.

Mitundumbea Forest Reserve (9°10’S, 39°15’E) forms a northern extension of Ngarama North Forest Reserve on the Ruwawa Plateau. This reserve was enumerated by the 1961 Southern Province Enumeration Project and was found to contain miombo woodland with mninga Pterocarpus angolensis as well as ‘thicket patches containing a few mvule Milicia excelsa’. These ‘thicket patches’ may be a type of scrub forest similar to that on Ngarama North Forest Reserve.

Rungo Forest Reserve (9°30’S, 39°00’E) and Malehi Forest Reserve to the west and south-west of Kilwa have yet to be visited by biologists, but might contain Coastal Forest on the low hills within the reserves. The Kilwa District forestry records indicate that ‘poor miombo’ is present in these reserves.

Ngarama North Forest Reserve (9°15’S – 9°33’S, 39°15’E – 39°27’E ) has been visited briefly by a Danish ICBP expedition (see Eriksen et al., 1994), who report that patches of closed lowland forest exist on the western boundary of the reserve, with riverine forest along the rivers. Ngarama North was enumerated by the Southern Province Enumeration Project in 1961, which found a belt of Baobab Adansonia digitata forest in the southern part of the reserve, with a very large area of scrub forest on the Ruwawa plateau with a fairly high concentration of mvule Milicia excelsa as emergents above a 9 m canopy forest with Grewia sp., Hymenocardia ulmoides, Polysphaeria sp., Cussonia zimmermannii, Bombax rhodognaphalon, Draecaena usambarensis, Cordyla africana and Vitex schliebenii. The northern part of the reserve consists of miombo where mninga Pterocarpus angolensis was reported to have become scarce from over-exploitation during the 1960s. A small remnant patch of forest (9°24’S, 39°22’E) has recently been found on the eastern edge of the reserve with a 25 m high canopy of Hymenaea verrucosa together with smaller trees including Scorodophloeus fischeri, Strychnos henningsii, Diospyros sp. and Synaptolepis kirkii. This forest patch contains the rare tree Karomia gigas, which was previously thought to be extinct.

Ngarama South Forest Reserve (9°31’S – 9°33’S, 39°23’E – 39°26’E) has also been visited by the Danish ICBP expedition (Eriksen et al., 1994) and contains low forest and scrub forest with Milicia excelsa, Markhamia sp., Pteleopsis myrtifolia and Zanthoxylum sp. Elsewhere mpingo Dalbergia melanoxylon is numerous on the higher rocky areas with shallow soils. The boundaries of the reserve are currently being cleared and planted with Cassia sp.

Pindiro Forest Reserve (9°27’S – 9°34’S, 39°14’E – 39°19’E) has been visited by the Danish ICBP expedition (Eriksen et al., 1994), and followed by a further visit by Danish botanists for two months. The Kilwa District Forestry office records the occurrence of a ‘grassy type of miombo’ with lots of Brachystegia microphylla in the south of the reserve. Elsewhere in the reserve are patches of closed forest with a low canopy, together with at least 15 ha of swamp forest (Eriksen et al., 1994). Pindiro has been enumerated by transects 73-76 of the Southern Province Enumeration Project in 1961.

More forest may be present further to the north of Pindiro on the Mbwalawala Plateau.

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Lindi District

A small patch of dry forest (9°41’30″S, 39°43’E) dominated by the rare tree Cynometra filifera (known elsewhere only from the Lindi Creek area) together with Scorodophloeus fischeri is found by the coast 4 km north of Mchinga mbili.

Patches of forest occur on the steep, rocky hills on either side of the main Dar es Salaam to Lindi road in the vicinty of Mchinga (e.g. at 9°43’S, 39°41’E).

Matapwa Forest Reserve (9°38’S – 9°47’S, 39°14’E – 39°24’E) was gazetted during the German administration and contains predominatly Mpingo Dalbergia melanoxylon wooded grassland, although a patch of forest is said to occur on a low ridge in the south of the reserve. Riverine forest is also present in the reserve. Tendaguru Hill (9°42’S, 39°13’E) lies about 1km to the west of the reserve, where a few endemic plants and Brachyosaurus sp. have been collected. The hill is covered by wooded grassland.

A patch of Boabab (Adansonia digitata) forest (9°51’S, 39°47’E) is present near Kikwetu, to the east of Lindi Airport, and near Mbanja where the endemic reptile Chirindia ewerbecki ewerbecki was found. This forest may be similar to that found elsewhere on coral rag where Baobabs are also prominent.

A small area of forest has been reported from the western end of the Likonde Plateau (9°47’S – 9°49’S, 39°23’E – 39°29’E), but has not been visited. The proximity of this forest to the those of the Noto and Rondo Plateaux would suggest that it will contain many rare species.

Most of the northern and eastern part of the Kiwawa Plateau (9°46’S – , – 39°16’E) has been visited which contains a mosaic of patches of scrub forest within closed canopy Mninga Pterocarpus angolensis woodland. A small area of closed canopy forest occurs on the extreme northern escarpment edge.

A large tract of forest is said to still exist on the Noto Plateau (9°51’S – 9°54’S, 39°19’E – 39°27’E) where the botanist Schlieben collected a number of rare plants in the 1930s, including Artabotrys modestus Diels ssp. modestus [Annonac.], Xylia schliebenii Harms [Fabac.], Homalium elegantum Sleumer [Flacourtiac.], and Clerodendrum sp. A of FTEA [Verbenaceae] which have not been recollected elsewhere, so gazettement and protection of this forest is essential to ensure the survival of these species. Other rare species found here include Mimusops acutifolia Mildbr. [Sapotac.], Premna hans-joachimii Verdc. [Verbenac.] both of which are only found in the Rondo & Noto forests, and Canthium impressinervum Bridson [Rubiac.] which is only known from 3 other sites in SE Tanzania.
The local authority Nandimba Forest Reserve (not to be confused with the Ndimba Forest Reserve dealt with in this volume of the Status Reports) is present near Mandawa but nothing is known of its status.

Makangala Forest Reserve (9°59’S – 10°01’S, 39°20’E – 39°25’E) lies on the south side of the main road between Rutamba and Milola and contains miombo woodland with scattered patches of thicket. Given its proximity to the Rondo Plateau, this reserve may contain some interesting plant species.

The hills on the eastern side of Lindi Creek contain a number of diverse patches of forest. Of these, the forest patches at Kitunda (immediately opposite Lindi town) are theoretically protected to safeguard the catchment for part of Lindi’s water supply, but cultivation is nonetheless taking place here. These forests are on land owned by the abandoned sisal estate on the hilltop.

The Mnacho Forest Reserve on the road between Lindi and Mingoyo/ Mnazi Mmoja contains thicket and scrub of 1 square mile in extent planted with Cassia siamea in 1978 to provide woodfuel for Lindi town.

A forest at Mlinguru should be present ’20km from Lindi’ according to the citation for Cynometra filifera in the Flora of Tropical East Africa, although the Mlinguru Sisal Estate (10°06’S, 39°44’E) is just 10 km from Lindi as the Coucal flies, on the other (eastern side) of Lindi Creek. Mlinguru forest is probably located somewhere on the escarpment edge to the west of the sisal estate, overlooking Lindi Creek, which is cited as another of the collection localities for Cynometra filifera. The botanist Schlieben collected a number of plant species in Mlinguru that have not been collected since.

Liwengula Forest Reserve (10°00’S – 10°01’S, 39°33’E – 39°34’E) was gazetted during the German Administration and is found 1 km north of the main Lindi to Milola road, near Lake Narunyu and immediately north of the Naitivi coconut plantation. The reserve was cancelled in 1960 (G.N. 487) and is now an old cashewnut woodland, although the local people say that forest did exist there in the past and that forest is still present to the north-west of the reserve area.

Forest is still present at the extreme southeastern corner of the Rondo Plateau on a hill to the immediate south-east of the Chiponda trig point (10°11’S, 39°26’E).

Mtama Forest Reserve is located about halfway between Lindi and Masasi, about 2 km north of Nyangao (10°19’S, 39°17’E). This reserve contains woodland rather than forest but may still include some rare plant species as it is on the base of the Rondo massif. 2 acre trial plots of Pinus carribea and Pinus insularis were established here during the 1960s.

Nyangamara forest (10°23’S, 39°35’E) in the extreme south of the region has been visited by a Danish ICBP expedition (see Faldborg et al., 1991), and comprises some 6 square km of low forest with bamboos in the understorey. Discussions are currently under way with the local villages to have the forest gazetted into a reserve.

Old botanical collections at Sudi (10°05’S – 10°07’S, 39°52’E – 39°54’E) on the coast at the extreme south-east of the region include Hymenaea verrucosa and Scorodophloeus fischeri which suggest that Gum Copal forest may be present on the coastal sands near Sudi village. If this should be the case then this would be the only known Gum Copal forest south of the Rufiji River, and possibly the largest and least threatened tract of this forest type remaining in Tanzania, therefore urgently in need of gazettement. The other Gum Copal Forests at Kisiju, Mchungu and Kilindoni on Mafia Island are described in more detail in the Coast Region volume of the Status Reports. Xylopia sp. A of FTEA is endemic to Sudi.

Liwale and Nachingwea Districts

Liwale and Nachingwea Districts in Lindi Region are almost completely unexplored by biologists and contain just one forest reserve each – Lionja Forest Reserve (Nachingwea) and Nyera Kiperere Forest Reserve (Liwale), both near the Nachingwea to Liwale road. Records of rare amphibians (e.g. of the forest dependant Stephopaedes loveridgei and Spelaeophryne methneri) as well as of reptiles collected by J.P. Ionides (who ususally just cited the district rather than giving a precise locality) indicate that forest must exist in these districts.

The Lungonya Forest Reserve at the extreme north-east of Liwale District is now contained within the Selous Game Reserve where Coastal Forest is known to occur, e.g. the goundwater forest near the Miombo Research Centre at Kingupira, and on the Tundu Hills. These are the least threatened of all the Coastal Forests in Tanzania, as they are far from human habitation.

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Last Updated: 20 March 2017