Saturday, 3 August 2013

At last, in "the field"!

My visit to the RCF's nursery in Amani Tropical Rainforest. 

At last, after 1,5 year of supporting its work.
One of the most ancient Tropical Rainforests worldwide!

...with Mr Barutti in the nursery!

Mr Barutti came and picked me up from Ambassador Hotel, at 9am, but we only left the city at late afternoon. We first had to take his truck to a service point for checking, at first, but then it turned to be that it had to be repaired. Of course, the necessary spares were not in stock, so someone had to go to Tanga, the closest big city, to get them. We spent the hole day walking around the city, buying food supplies in the central market, drinking tea and chatting. Climbing up the mountain to Amani Reserve was an experience.
sunk under deep, fresh mud...
The second half of the route 
was sunk under deep, fresh mud or muddy water, and in the shadow of vast vegetation and unusually high trees. I was already filled up with enthusiasm. Mr Barutti said that the roads in Amani are almost year round in this bad condition as rainfall is massive and the sun does´t reach the ground to dry it out. He said that the road can be in such a condition even a month after the last rainfall. 
We arrived in the “nuns’ house” almost one hour after nightfall. It was a beautiful wooden construction pretty much similar to those of the Alps, surrounded by the rainforest of Amani!
The nuns' house.
I have 
never seen anything similar to those trees -some of them are higher than 60 meters- or to that vegetation! The nuns prepared our dinner. Mr Barutti said that we would have breakfast, lunch and dinner, here, every day. After dinner, we went to his place, some 8 Km or fifteen minutes driving distance by the 4X4. 
At Mr Barutti’s place –you cannot call this “a house”, as it is a huge plot, with various buildings and huts for visitors, apart from the main one- there is not power and running water. There were two big buckets in the showers, but not with hot water – the girl who stays here and has the duty to start a fire and heat the water (this is how I got hot water the next days) was already asleep when we got there. After a while, Mr Barutti said goodnight and entered his room. 
I was left alone in the spacey porch, in front of the rooms. I could only see the shadows of the dense forest that surrounds the place, but I could hear all of its sounds. The creatures of the night were feasting. I could not see any light around. I raised my eyes, the sky was filled with bright lightened stars. The residents of the forest kept on with their ritual for as long as I stayed there with my gaze fixed on the stars. Next morning, we drove again to the nuns’, got a breakfast there and then we made a long walk around the villages, inside the forest. Mr Barutti proved himself to be a great guide.

The Amani Nature Reserve was created to protect the unique, biologically important submontane forest ecosystem of the East Usambara Mountains in Amani, Tanzania. The East Usambara Mountains form part of a chain of isolated mountains stretched in an arc around north-eastern Tanzania. The East Usambara covers an area of about 1300 km², (130,000 ha). Amani is located about 75 kilometres from Tanga municipality and 32 kilometers from Muheza town. The area is covered with tropical evergreen rain forest. 
Amani Nature Reserve (ANR), in East Usmbara Mountains, is a paradise of nature with
unique flora and fauna. It has been termed as the "Last Paradise".  The flora species composition is diverse; trees over 60 metres tall exist throughout the ANR while below, many different types of plant species are supported by them. The ANR is suitable for site seeing, hiking, camping, trekking, picnics boating fishing and learning. The Amani Nature Reserve has the largest botanical gardens in Africa. This garden was ...
read more, here

The forest in the daylight seemed extraordinary. I have never seen something like this before. I hope you will get an idea by the videos and the photos.
At last, in "the field"...

In the afternoon, we visited RainforestConservationFund’s nursery, which was built and equipped totally out of funds coming from the organization, which is also employing the two local men who work, in daily basis, in the nursery.
In April, 2010, RCF added a new project to our rainforest conservation efforts, located near  and around the Amani Nature Reserve, in surrounding forest fragments and farmland of the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. Led by RCF Advisor to the Board Dr. Norbert Cordeiro (Roosevelt University, Chicago) and Dr. Henry Ndangalasi (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), the project works with local residents from 3 villages to conserve and restore the threatened cloud forests and the biocultural diversity of the area. The main component of the RCF funded project is the planting of more than 30 native tree species on communal lands. Some of these lands are forest fragments that are enriched by the tree planting, while others are agroforestry systems that are rebuilding forest cover. To help raise local incomes, cinnamon and clove trees are also panted in the agroforestry systems. Local residents are well aware that restoring forest cover will also help them with wildlife, water and soil conservation. 
read more about RCF & the Amani project, here

texts and photos,
by Dimitris Mamakos
more about Dimitris, here 
connect with Dimitris on facebook, here


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