UNESCO World Heritage Site Kilimanjaro: Tree Nurseries for Biodiversity
To protect biodiversity, Kilimanjaro National Park used #SOSAfricanHeritage funds to remove invasive species from the lower mountain forest of the park and to reforest the area with native species.
The aim of #SOSAfricanHeritage is to contribute to preserving independent and sustainable organisational structures at African World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves with the participation of civil society as well as to secure spaces dedicated to education for global citizenship, sustainability and cultural diversity.
With 5.895m, the Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa. The mountain has five main vegetation zones: lower slopes, mountain forest, heath and moorland, alpine desert and peaks. The whole mountain, including the montane forest belt, is very rich in species, especially mammals, many of which are threatened with extinction. Because of these features, but above all because of its height, physical shape and snow cap, Kilimanjaro is considered an outstanding example of a natural phenomenon of superlatives. The Kilimanjaro National Park covers an area of approximately 75,575ha and protects the largest free-standing volcanic mass in the world.
Restrictions due to the pandemic
The current pandemic poses a serious threat to the conservation of nature reserves in Tanzania. According to tourism statistics, the number of tourist visits has decreased by 98.5 percent since the outbreak of the pandemic. Income from tourism is the only source of funding for nature conservation in all national parks in the country. The impact on daily park operations is correspondingly drastic. In order to minimise the effects, a large part of the park operation has been scaled down. Plans to rid the lower mountain forest of invasive species are also affected. The spread of exotic tree species is massive, affecting biodiversity and the forest ecosystem.
Remedy through reforestation and data collection
Funding for the project under #SOSAfricanHeritage enabled the management of the Kilimanjaro National Park to carry out activities to clear the lower montane forest of invasive species as planned after all. Over an area of 90 hectares, the management removed non-native trees and replaced them with 25,000 seedlings of native tree species. The seeds for these had previously been collected from the wild and raised in nurseries. These measures enabled an important step to be taken towards the recovery of the ecosystem.
In the areas freed from invasive species, the management also established 46 experimental plots measuring 20x20 meters. These plots are used for monitoring how plant communities recover after management actions. These observations will be used to derive and optimize future management strategies.
On the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, an International Relief Fund was set up in summer 2020 to provide rapid support to cultural and educational organisations abroad during the COVID-19-pandemic. With its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage, the German Commission for UNESCO is part of the Relief Fund consortium.
- Site: Kilimanjaro
- Country: Tanzania
- Type of Site: UNESCO World Heritage (natural heritage)
- Year of inscription: 1987