Restoring Kilimanjaro one step at a time

14 Sep 2017

Restoring productivity to traditional land-use systems

Towering above the bustling town of Moshi in northern Tanzania, is the iconic, ice-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro– one of the most defining features of Tanzania’s landscape, and the pivot on which a thriving tourism industry turns. Peaking at 5,895 metres above sea level, this volcanic massif is both the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing peak on Earth. It’s diversity of ecosystems is exceptional, ranging from glaciers and alpine moorlands, through montane grasslands and rain forests on upper slopes, to woodlands on the foothills, and dry, open savanna on the surrounding plains.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the primary source of water for much of north-central and eastern Tanzania, and parts of Kenya. It also holds cultural and spiritual significance and provides food, fuel, and building materials for the local communities of Kilimanjaro Region. The capacity of the mountain to continue to provide these vital resources and ecosystem services is, increasingly, being compromised by extensive land degradation. The causes are complex and interrelated, including large-scale deforestation, rapid human population growth, shifts in land use and agricultural practices, changing market forces, and the impacts of climate change.

With support from the Kilimanjaro SLM Project, the Kilimanjaro Regional Government has worked to address land degradation through the adoption of sustainable land management practices and the creation of alternative income generating activities that do not cause deforestation. The project served to enhance local economic development, food security, and sustainable livelihoods, whilst combatting desertification in forest and woodland ecosystems in the Kilimanjaro Region (see page 59).

SLM is being scaled-up through ongoing GEF investments in UNDP- supported projects in the miombo woodlands of the Tabora and Katavi Regions, and the Uluguru and East Usambara Mountains.


  • Into the garden
  • Steps to sustainability
  • Spreading the benefit
  • Natural defenses
  • Background to the story
  • Digging Deeper

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