Ukaguru forest plantation is located within the Milindo forest reserve in the Northern end of Ukaguru Mountain Range (Rubeho Mountain System) in Gairo districts Morogoro region. The forest lies between latitude 3608’E-370E South and longitudes 60’S to 605’S East. The forest is accessed by two roads, one from Mvumi junction to plantation station(52km) another from forest station to Gairo (Morogoro-Dodoma Highway) via Rubeho (42km). The plantation is surrounded by four villages namely Njungwa, Ikwamba Mohe and Masenge.
1.2 History and the progress of the plantation.
The Ukaguru Forest Plantation was established in 1954 in order to raise fast growing species so as to supply softwood utility timber for the Central and Eastern regions of country. The construction of road from forest station to Mvumi junction was done on 1962 making the station accessible by two roads, one from Gairo through Rubeho (42) another from Mvumi (52km). The roads are in bad condition thus acting as bottle neck in accessibility.
Planting started effectively in late fifties, stopped 1973 then started again in 1993/94. The main species which were planted included: Cupressus lustanica, C. benethamii, Pinus patula, P. elliotii, and P. caribaea in lower elevation. The species distribution in percentage were P. patula(51%), P. carbaea(16.4%), P. eliotii(13%), Cupressus benthamii(10%), C. lustanica (8.3%) and Eucalyptus saligna(1.3%). Moreover afforestation has been concentrated and limited to grassland areas an area of 400ha was left unplanted.
220.127.116.11 Division of plantation.
The Plantation is divided into Ranges the Trial Plot and Mandege Range. The Range is further divided into Management units called compartments. The largest compartment is 14A has 189ha and the smallest compartment is 1C of 1.2ha.
18.104.22.168 Legal status and ownership
The forest plantation was declared a Central Government Forest Reserve by General Notice No.64 of 1956 specifically for softwood aforestation; it is under the ownership of Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) with its Headquarters in Dar es salaam. The Reserve consists of rugged high level natural grassland area adjoining the Northern end of mamiwa-Kisara Reserve.
1.2.2 Progress of the plantation during the last Management Plan.
The performance of plantation in the last management plan was not good, because it was faced by the following challenges: lack of enough fund to implement planned activities, inadequate vehicles and machines for forest operation particularly tractor, the tendency of tangya farmers to damage the planted trees, inadequate forest staff, very high running and maintenance cost of vehicle caused by bad road condition, illegal mining, delay to get the tree seeds from Tree Seeds Agency (TTSA). There fore the above challenges in great extent hindered the implementation of forest operations. The summary of performance of Plantation in terms of planted area has been depicted in table 1 below:
The Forest reserve covers an area of 3087ha with horse like shape and most of it is plantable. The area is very steep (Hilly) indicating great problem in extraction of forest products. The planted area covers 976ha. The open area in the plantations includes; roads, ridges, firebreaks, steep hills, areas for institutions houses, river banks and 400 ha is an area for further expansion of the plantation area. Therefore the plantation total area is 1757ha.
1.3.2 Topography and Hydrology
The area surrounding the plantation is mountains with steep valleys. The plantation is dominated by numerous ridged hills with moderate to steep slopes. The valleys are of river Milindo and its tributaries. There is no level land which is found in the plantation except the valley bottoms which are narrow and swampy. Generally the altitude ranges from 1160 to 1500 meters above sea level.
1.3.3 Geology and soils
The general geology of the area is given in the Mlali Geology survey Quarter Sheet by J.K. Whittingham 1957. The whole area lies on magnetic biotite gneiss, and sometimes with garnet and Kyamite all being metamorphic rocks. Some of the few rock outcrops as well as the mountain/ hill peaks are syenite. The soils are mostly deeply weathered; the top soils are somewhat truncated and the sub soils quite variable very slippery. By virtue of the topography. They are slightly sticky but result land sliding or collapsing is common. The top soils are brown to dark brown while the sub soils are yellowish brown to light red. A notable feature of them is that they contain a lot of mica, a factor which reduces stickiness to the soil but increases the slippery state.
1.3.4 Natural Vegetation
The project area is surrounded by a closed natural forest in all sides except a stretch in the North - Eastern to South - Eastern parts where there is open wooded grassland. The plantations itself, lie in an area which formerly was a grassland glade considerable herbaceous growth particularly at the high elevation. In addition, the vegetation grow rapidly causing weed problem to be high. Nevertheless, grass growth at the lower elevations of the project area is very profuse and becomes an extremely high fire hazard during the dry season.
1.3.5 Biodiversity potentials
No researchers has been involved to explore the biodiversity potentials in the Milindo Forest Reserve where the Forest Plantation lies.
1.3.6 Special features and sites
Forest Plantation is cut by permanent streams and valleys which are steep, resulting into high degree of slope in each compartment.
Generally, the area experiences a mountain tropical climate with a medium to high rainfall and mild temperature.
1.4.1. Mean Rainfall.
For the past five year the rainfall records have been maintained at the forest Station and the mean annual rainfall for the project area is about 1,300mm based on previous data because there are no weather nearby Plantation.
1.4.2. Rainfall Distribution and reliability
There are two rain seasons: short rain season being from November to December and long rain from March to May. The June - October (5 months) period is generally dry season.
Temperature records have not been shown because there are no weather nearby Plantation. , but casual observations show the cool and hot season, occasionally there is frost.
1.4.4 Wind and Humidity
Winds are blowing South-easterly during the dry season and North - Westerly during the rains. The general shape of the valleys funnels the winds up the Milindo river valley during the period of June to September.