What would you like to search for?

Water Towers Landscape

A home of high biodiversity and free-flowing rivers for people and nature.

© Joan Itanisa

This landscape is unique as it includes the largest sources of water in the country, critical for human wellbeing, wildlife and the national economy. The landscape has an estimated total area of 158,000 km2 and embraces, the East Usambara
Mountains and lowland forests, the other EAM forests and nature reserves (Uluguru, Nguu, Udzungwa, Uzungwa, Nilo, Mount Rungwe, Kipengere, Kilombero, Magombera),
important National Parks (notably Saadani and Ruaha).
Forests in the Water Towers Landscape include montane, lowland, coastal forests, and miombo woodlands, distributed in the EAM uplands and lowlands. The forests under the Eastern Arc are recognized globally for their high species richness, endemism and a large number of restricted-range


Conserving these forest habitats is critically important for Tanzanians as well as the global community. Most of the important forest areas are found within government managed Forest Reserves which are poorly-funded and have few staff, thus facing extreme degradation due to illegal tree harvesting and agricultural encroachment, however they provide the mainstay for conservation in the area.
The habitats in the Water Towers Landscape are notably fragmented, making threatened species within key sites highly vulnerable to extinction from further habitat loss. Agricultural encroachment, timber extraction, and charcoal production are the greatest threats.35 Other threats include establishment of settlements; nomadic herders moving with their cattle; and lack of protection leaving forests prone to seasonal forest fires. Root causes, among others, are the need for land by migrants or young households and for livelihoods.

Did you Know?

The IUCN recognizes the East Arc Mountains as a global biodiversity “hotspot”. It includes the East Usambara forests which are of small size but rich biologically with the highest known ratio of endemic plant and animal species per area