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Cycle 9 (2020 Deadline)

Assessment of land-cover/land-use change, drivers and potential effects to megaherbivores at Ruaha-Rungwa and Tarangire-Manyara Wildlife ecosystems in Tanzania

PI: Proches Msigula (, Sokoine University of Agriculture
U.S. Partner: Andrew Hudak, U.S. Forest Service
Project Dates:

Project Overview:
The aim of this project is to understand the nature and extent of land-cover/land-use change (LCLUC) over the past 40 years (1980-2019) in and adjacent to the Ruaha-Rungwa and Tarangire-Manyara ecosystems that might be detrimental to wildlife and human wellbeing, in order to guide management decisions and policy making. Specifically, the project will (1) determine the extent and patterns of LCLUC inside the two wildlife ecosystems and within 10 km of the ecosystem boundaries; (2) assess drivers of change focusing on fire history, smallholder farmers, rainfall, human population, and soil fertility; (3) examine the effect of LCLUC on the distribution and abundance of wildlife within the ecosystems and adjacent areas, focusing on elephant and giraffe; and (4) suggest measures to mitigate negative effects of LCLUC on wildlife species. This project will involve researchers from Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, and the U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. partner will provide technical expertise in remote sensing applications, provide technical advice to the Tanzanian counterpart on how best to quantify land cover changes using remote sensing, and relate estimates of land cover change to human and natural disturbance drivers on the ground.

This project will produce LCLUC maps over the study period, highlighting causes of change and impacts of change on large herbivores and human wellbeing. The information will be presented in the form of technical reports, policy briefs, and scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals. The findings of this study will guide the Government of Tanzania in land-use planning, decision-making, and policy formulation for mitigating the negative effect of LCLUC drivers on the wellbeing of both large herbivores and humans in and around the wildlife ecosystems.

The Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem (RRE) and Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem (TME) are among USAID areas of interest. TME is located within the Endangered Ecosystem of Northern Tanzania (EENT). It contributes to securing the health and connectivity of the Tarangire/Maasai Steppe ecosystem, which is critical to pastoralist communities, large migratory wildlife populations, and Tanzania’s economic future. RRE lies within the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) program, which encourages smallholder farmers to use modern technologies and management systems to sustainably intensify agriculture while conserving natural resources to reduce biodiversity loss and pressure on hydrological systems. These developmental programs are also implemented by USAID-Tanzania to help the Government of Tanzania achieve socioeconomic transformation towards middle-income status by 2025. According to SAGCOT, there is a gap of information on potential impacts of smallholder farmers on natural resources, wildlife habitats, species distributions, and the viability of corridors. The results of this PEER project will guide the government and conservation partners in decisionmaking, improve upon redesigning land use plans, and inform policy formulation.

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