Olmotonyi Training Forest
Sokoine University of Agriculture truly offers science-based, field practical oriented training. The College of Forestry, Wildlife and Tourism is demonstrating a leading role on these aspects, starting right at its inception with an outdoor degree programmes in Forestry. Even before becoming a fully-fledged University, in the 1970’s the then Division of Forestry of the University of Dar es Salaam started to build up its infrastructure by seeking and acquiring an appreciable and viable plantation forest on the slopes of Mount Meru for practical training on sustainable management as an enterprise and an ecological hotspot.
In 1977 an agreement was reached between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the University of Dar es Salaam in which the Division of Forest under the Faculty of Agriculture Forest and Veterinary Sciences was given a mandate to manage 840 ha part of the Government owned Meru Forest Plantation on ten years renewable leasehold.
- To become a Centre of Excellence for training, research and demonstration in forestry and related science
- To become a source of forest products through production of saw logs, poles, fuel wood, lumber and other processed forest products
- To become an area for management of watershed conservation on the slopes of Mt Meru.
The total forest area of SUATF the following composition: 80% is plantation forest, 20% is natural forest and the remainder is buildings and roads. The common species of the plantation forest include Pinus patula, Cuppressus lusitanica, Grevillea robusta, Eucalyptus maidenii, Casuarina montana, Olea capense Accacia melanoxylon and Cedrella odorata. The common natural forest species include: Croton megalocarpus, Syzygium guineense Albizia gumifera, Albizia schimperana, Newtonia microcalyx, Croton megalocarpus, Juniperus procera, Hagenia abyssinica, Stoebe kilimandscharica, Rapanea rododendroides, Arundinaria alpina, Philippia trimera, Cordial abyssinica and Myrianthus holstii.
The most common animals found in the SUA Training Forest include: black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey, baboons, porcupine, big poached rat and various species of antelopes birds and reptiles.
The office of the Forest Manager, assistant forest Manager, Accountant, and the office management secretary are all in one block.
The students’ hostels have a capacity of accommodating 124 students in four separate blocks fitted with double decked beds. They are constructed with a lot of space in between having evergreen lawns and eye catching flower gardens. They have adequate supply of clean cold and hot water.
The cafeteria and its adjoining kitchen can support more than 100 visitors at one moment. It is adequately equipped with all implements for providing sufficient kitchen service to visitors of all categories.
Guest wings are of two categories; the senior and junior guest wings. All together the guest wings can accommodate 18 visitors. There are facilities for self-catering provisions in the guest wings.
The auditorium has a capacity of 45 comfortable seats and equipped with black board, flipchart holder and power point devices. This form an ideal place for conducting seminars and workshops
The SADC Centre for Practical Forestry Training was established to provide short courses in practical forestry education for the SADC countries. This centre has a conference room for up to 40 people, a library containing valuable printed materials. It is an ideal place in the station conducting seminar and workshops for senior staff from the different institutions in and outside the country.
The station has a dispensary which provides immediate first aid and essential drugs. This dispensary is intended to serve members of staff with their families, students, visitors to the station and the neighbouring communities.
There is a garage with best technicians and vehicle maintenance equipment. Repair and maintenance of all trucks, tractors and office vehicles is undertaken with highest level of workmanship by station technicians. Alongside the garage is a fuel pump for servicing station vehicles. Visitors are also allowed to buy fuel from this pump at market price.
The station is connected to national power grid and there is a stand-by generator that can provide electricity to the whole station.
The station is connected to the Arusha-Nairobi highway through a well maintained three kilometre all weather access road. The station is also connected to internet through the national fibre-optic backbone, which provides fast connectivity.
The station has two saw mills with an annual capacity of sawing 10,000 cubic meters. Sawmilling is a daily activity and is also for demonstration to students on logs conversion to lumber.
The carpentry is endowed with planner machine and sizing machine which together are for adding value to saw timber.
The SUATF tree nursery is categorically a permanent that has a capacity of raising up to 200,000 seedlings. However this nursery has been raising a mixture of both tree seedlings and ornamental plants.
• Forest protection: The Training forest is protected from three major vagaries namely; wood poaching, animal grazing, wild fires. This is made possible by forest guards who daily patrol the forest to prevent any illegal activities
• Corporate social responsibility: Villagers are made to benefit from the forest by being allocated plots from the clear felled area of the training forest for cultivation of agricultural crops. In addition villagers are provided free fuelwood fodder, water for irrigation and domestic utilization. SUA Training Forest also collaborates with Forest Training Institute Olmotonyi, Meru Forest Plantation and Office of Arusha catchment forest to maintain the 3km access road from Olmotonyi to Arusha – Nairobi highway.
• Eco-tourism: The forest contains interesting life forms as mentioned in the forest composition and features like good network of forest trails suitable for hiking. The constantly changing mixture of different species in different compartments of the forest added to patches of natural forest keep attractive evergreen eye inviting condition of the forest that invites the eye of a visitor for a second look. The roadsides planted trees lean towards each other in effort to search for light. In so doing they create a bio-duct that engulf a hiker as one walks without seeing the sky above the head along the 17 km primary forest road. This state of affair poses a big potential for ecotourism.
There are many areas of research in the training forest that fall in both social and biological sciences. Just to mention a few, investigation has not been done the following areas;
(i) Impact of taungya on the performance of various tree species
(ii) Severity of the impact of cypress aphid on changing landscape
(iii) Determination of extent of dependence of the local community on the training forest
(iv) Investigation of changing site quality over time in training forest
(v) Effects of fodder and fuel wood forage on nutrient status of SUA training forest
(vi) Determination of diversity gradient based on change in altitude in the SUA training forest
However, SUA Training Forest, like many other plantation forests in Tanzania, lack permanent sample plots for collecting data to assess performance of various species. Permanent sample plots are vitally needed for they are living data banks for forest performance under predetermined treatments from stand establishment to rotation.
SUA Training Forest
P.O. Box 7193, ARUSHA
Tel: +255 27 250 9348
Fax +255 27 250 9349