Arusha region has a total land area of 34526 sq. kms of which 955.2 sq.kms. or 2.7 percent is covered by water bodies of lakes Eyasi, Manyara and Natron. Arusha region is one of the smallest regions of Tanzania Mainland. It ranks13th in size and occupies about 3.8 percent of Tanzania Mainland total area of 942,784 sq.km.
Table bellow shows distribution of the region’s area among the districts and that the districts with the largest areas are Ngorongoro and Longido districts, with Ngorongoro district constituting 40.3 percent of total land area of the region followed by Longido (22.5 percent), Monduli (18 percent), Karatu (10 percent) and Arumeru (8 percent). Arusha district with 0.3 percent of the area is the smallest.
Land Use Pattern
Prior to year 2002, Arusha region was the largest region in Tanzania and was comprised of 10 districts which were Monduli, Arumeru, Arusha, Kiteto, Babati, Hanang, Mbulu, Karatu, Simanjiro and Ngorongoro. Because of its big size and large number of districts, the government in July 2002, decided to split the region into two regions, namely, Arusha and Manyara.
Administratively, Arusha region is now divided into 6 districts of Monduli, Arumeru, Arusha, Karatu, Ngorongoro and Longido. The region is also divided into seven councils with Arumeru being divided into Meru and Arusha councils. Others are Arusha Municipality, Karatu, Ngorongoro, Monduli and Longido.
Arusha region is further divided into 22 divisions, 101 wards, 312 villages and 1,266 hamlets.
In Arusha region the natural resources sector is comprised of various sub-sectors including forestry, bee-keeping and wildlife. The sector is very important in contributing to social and economic development such as employment and revenue gained. Apart from economic gains, the sector also plays an important role in the maintenance of climate stability, conservation of water sources, soil fertility, controlling land erosion, and providing source of wood fuel, and industrial materials.
Table 1 below shows that the region had an estimated forest reserved area of 92, 336 hectares or 0.3 percent of the region’s total land area of 34,526,000 hectares. Encroached area with 18 percent of the total constitutes 0.7 percent of land under forestry reserves. It is lArumeru district has the largest area under forestry reserves at 18 percent followed by Longido district with 12.6 percent. Due to its urban nature, the area under forest reserves in Arusha district is rather insignificant being a mere 100 hectares or about 0.1 percent. Due to increasing demand of forest resources in the region and also in an attempt to reduce deforestation, millions of seedlings are raised and planted each year.
On reforestation, efforts are being made by the region and various institutions including individuals to overcome environmental degradation. By means of raising tree seedling there has been an increase in the number of tree seedling raised since 2002/2003 at an average of 364,286 million seedlings a year. There were about 6,881,994 seedlings raised in 2006/2007 compared with 5,164,700 in 2005/2006. This was an increase of 33.2 percent. These exercises were made possible through coordinated efforts between various institutions including government departments, villages, schools, NGOs, religions and individuals.
Apart from the declining land area under forest reserve, serious measures need to be undertaken to protect the existing forest cover by planting new trees in the deforested and new areas as part of environmental conservation initiative. At present, the region is undertaking various tree planting initiatives by involving various stakeholders. There 18 NGOs including Institutions that are involved in environmental conservation through different approaches.