Monduli. Two villages in Monduli District, Arusha Region may have their registration revoked after it was found that their boundaries extended into a forest reserve, government authorities warned here last week.
Lendikinya and Arkaria villages in Sepeko ward were registered in 2005 but it has since emerged that their border lines extended into Lendikinya Forest Reserve which was gazetted way back in 1971.
The protected area, which is under the district council, is currently threatened after it was invaded by over 200 people who have since 1996 established their permanent settlements there.
Speaking recently during a visit to Monduli by the Arusha Regional Commissioner Mrisho Gambo, the villagers vowed to oppose their eviction from the forest reserve because their settlement in the disputed area had the blessing of the assemblies of the two villages.
One villager, who identified himself as Ayub Sindio, said they had been forced to move into the reserve due to the increasing human population. He denied that they were behind indiscriminate cutting down of trees there.
“Many of us were born and raised here and have the right to access the resources in this area”, he insisted, saying, however, that access to forestry resources did not mean destruction of the environment.
Ms Amina Lemukuti pleaded with the local authorities in Monduli to spare them from the imminent eviction, noting that women and children would be most affected by the move.
Information is circulating in Monduli that the government intends to lease the area to a local investor whom she could not name. But Ms Lemukuti warned that it would be unfair to evict them from the area in order to serve the interest of one individual. The District Lands and Environment Officer Adili Mwanga, the contested Lendikinya forest reserve covers 43 square kilometres and has maintained the same status even before independence in 1961. It was handed over to the Monduli District Council in 1969.