The Mbeya Research Project

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Date
1979
Authors
Blackie J.R
Edwards K.A
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Abstract
Only about 4 per cent of the East African land surface reliably receives a mean annual rainfa1l greater than mean annual potential Transpiration (Russell, 1962). These areas, for the most part, are the highlands above 2,000 m which were covered originally by natural Montane forest. Nearly all the major rivers rise in these highlands, and it is generally accepted that their dry season flow depends upon high infiltration rates giving recharge to groundwater storage in the headwater catchments. Traditional methods of non-intensive, shifting cultivation, with fallows, long enough to al10w the regeneration of the natural Vegetation (albeit of secondary type), caused little long-term damage to land in closed forest zones. The concentration of population in favorable areas, however, has resulted in the permanent removal of most of the original forest. Intensive cultivation of steep slopes Under a subsistence economy relying predominantly on annual crops has Led, in turn, to severe soil erosion and a deterioration of water yie1ds in tens of both quantity and quality (see Temple, 1972, for examples in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania).
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East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, 43 (Special Issue), p. 226-230
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