Division Two is one of the Four Divisions of Sao Hill Forest Plantation in Mufindi District, Iringa Region approximately 20km South of Mafinga Township. The Division lies within Latitudes 8º 20’S and 8º41’ South and Longitudes 35º 40’E and 350 45’ East. The Division is bordered by a section of the famous Little Ruaha River to the East beyond which is Division One; Nyololo and Nzivi villages on the South East; Kisada village on the South – West and; Kibidula Seventh Day Adventist Mission, Matanana, Mtula and Sao Hill villages on the West. The old Great North road forms the plantation boundary on the North - West and to the North the Division is bordered by Mafinga National Service camp and Makalala Mission. The Tanzania Zambia high way bisects the Division into equal halves in a strip of about 26 km. from West and East.
1.2 History and progress of the plantation
The Division Two of Sao Hill Forest Reserve was initially part of Division One and it came into existence since 1979 when Division One was split into two sub–divisions to simplify management. In 1981, it was incorporated in Division One again thus becoming sub division of Division One. Later in 1988 Division One was found to be too big for effective forest management, thus it was sub divided again into Division One and Two of Sao Hill forest project The Forest and the land of Division Two are owned by the Tanzania Government and were gazetted under Government Notice 152 and 153 of 17/09/1976 (Appendix 12) on map JB 1928 Sao Hill Forest Plantation Management map, (Appendix 11).
The Sao Hill Forest Plantation was established in order to raise fast growing species so as to supply both internal and external market with timber and pulpwood. The plantable area of Division Two is about 10, 239.2ha.
1.2.2. Progress of the Plantation during the last Management Plan
The performance of the forest plantation for the last five years was good. However, the performance was affected by various challenges which include; inadequate forest staff to execute forest operations according to the APOs; obsolete and inadequate vehicles and machines (plants) for different operations; very high running and maintenance costs of old vehicles and machines; delay or failure to get trees seeds from Tree Seed Agency (TTSA). This has hindered the management to undertake most of the forest operations including road maintenance, patrol and general administration tasks. The summary of performance of the plantation in terms of replanted areas is as shown in Table 1
Table 1: Replanting for the year 2008/9 - 2012/13
Year 2008/9 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 Total
Area (Ha) 934.3 734.23 832.68 274.8 544.75 3320.76
Division Two Forest Plantation has a total land area of 11,169.8ha. The Division is divided into five Ranges namely: Sao Hill (2649.2ha), Matanana (4,532.4ha) Nyololo (1678.4ha), Kibidula/Mkewe (1786.6ha) and Makalala (523.2ha). The total planted area is 10,239.18ha of which 9,000.906ha is planted with Pinus patula, P. Elliottii is 63.44ha while 152.55ha planted with mixed pines and Eucalyptus spp. Miombo forest occupies an area of 72.03ha in Makalala.
Taungya system is practised in almost all ranges in the plantation whereby people around the plantation are allocated with plots in clear-felled areas to cultivate annual crops and at the same time taking care of the young replanted trees. To avoid possible damage to the planted trees, taungya is only done in one season.
1.3.2 Topography and Hydrology
Most of the areas have gentle slope ranging from 2% to 9%. The elevation ranges from 1400 to 1800 m. a. s. l. The plantation has a high catchment value as several rivers/streams originate from plantation. Also there is a good number of other natural water sources including springs and dams which are used for domestic water uses and drain to Ihefu River. Apart from Ihefu River, there are several others, which mostly drain their water into the little Ruaha. These are:-Kifuli which flows towards South East; Likangafu on the North of Division which flows towards East and Mkewe River which makes boundary to the North and East of Mkewe forest reserve.
1.3.3 Geology and soils
Geologically, the rocks in this area are metamorphic, the primary rock being biotite granite and biotite gneisses. The soils are granitic with low nutrient status and well leached. Four types of soils which are identified as follows:-
- Sandy clay loam – predominant
- Sandy loam – along valley bottoms
- Gravel 0 – 60m deep – up hills
- Sandy clay adjacent to the Ruaha course way
- Soil pH ranges from 4.4 to 5.4, which is generally poor drained.
1.3.4 Natural Vegetation
The natural vegetation in the Division was originally typical montane open grasslands with occasional patches of miombo clusters and riverine trees in the valleys. Most of the valleys have grasses over 2 metres where species like Hypenhenic ruffa, H. fillipendula and Arundinale spp are common in the open upper slopes. The ridges have shorter grass species such as Themeda spp. The remaining patches of miombo woodlands contain Brachystegia spp and Julbernadia spp that are bordered by bushes with species like Syzigium spp, Parinari excelsa, P. Cussionia and P.spicata.
1.4.1 Rainfall distribution and reliability
Rainfall season starts from December up to mid April but with occasional wispy drizzles (Nyahenge) extending to June and sometimes up to July. The area receives a mean annual rainfall of 900mm most of it falling November and April.
Temperatures are mild ranging from 15°C to 24°C and sometimes to as low as 10°C. The warmest months are September, October and November and coldest months are May, June, July and August.
The direction of winds are predominantly blowing East to West in dry season and North - West to South – East during the rainy season.
1.5 Growing Stock
The forest growing stock was determined by way of forest inventory and subsequent analyses. The details are provided in the following subsections.