Sao Hill Division III Forest Plantation is located in Mufindi District, Iringa Region about 45 km away from Sao Hill Plantation Headquarters and 25 km from Mafinga- Iringa tarmac road. It lies between latitude 8º15’ and 25º8’ and longitudes 35º 21’ and 350 45’ East (Appendix 1). The plantation is accessed by an all weather road branching at 27 km from the Iringa – Mbeya highway, reaching the forest through its administration centre at Ihalimba.
1.2 HISTORY AND PROGRESS OF THE PLANTATION
The Government of Tanzania established Division Three Forest Plantation in 1978. The basic aim being supplying more wood raw materials to the Sao Hill Sawmill by then TWICO and Southern Paper Mill which is now called Mufindi Paper Mill.
The Division land was acquired from the neighbouring Villages (Kinyanambo, Itimbo, Mfukulembe, Ihalimba, Vikula, Ugesa, Usokami, Kibengu, Mbalwe, Mapanda, Nundwe, Ifwagi, Ludilo, Ilasa, and Kilosa) after official request from village and district authorities. There after the areas were surveyed, demarcated and mapped by surveyors from Forest Division in 1975.
After land acquisition, planting was effected towards the end of 1978 at large scale at Ihalimba, Usokami and Itimbo ranges. From 1978 to 2013 about 14,819ha of forest plantations have been planted with various species dominated by Pines.
There is an area of about 32,636.69 ha mainly bush which have been set aside for forest plantation extension. However, out of this area, 32,346.69ha falls under the area that is in conflict between the plantation management and surrounding villagers.
126.96.36.199 Division of the Plantation
The division is managed in units of different sizes, ages and species known as compartments. Due to the wide area covered by Division three, it was decided to subdivide it in two Sub-Divisions. Sub-Division I (6,425.95ha) is made up of 3 Ranges, namely Mwitikilwa/Nundwe (2,688.22ha), Ilasa (2,155.4ha) and Kilosa (1,582.33ha). Sub-Division II (8,780.32ha) is made up with six Ranges, namely Ihalimba (1,513.77ha), Usokami (335.76ha), Vikula (2,009.08ha), Wami (1,300.57ha), Itimbo East (695.28ha) and Itimbo West (2,925.86ha). These make a total of nine ranges in Division three. Compartments/sub-compartments are numbered in a system that shows the number of division, range, sub-range eventually compartment. For instance 3/T1/4 means division 3, Itimbo West range, sub-range 1 compartment number 4 (Appendix 4, Form 2).