The Forest is located on part of the Rondo (Mwera) plateau in Lindi region at around 870 m a.s.l (to a maximum of 885 m a.s.l). It lies between latitude 10°4’S and 10°14’S, longitude 39°8’E and 39°15’E.
Rondo Plantation Forest can be accessed by two routes. The first route which is the shortest is from Lindi to Ngongo village (16 km) where the road branches from the Lindi – Mtwara highway to Rondo. Through this route you pass a very steep and narrow track entering the eastern edge of the Rondo plateau past Chiponda, Mtauna and Mtakuja villages before reaching to Ntene village which is 1km from the Plantation Headquarters.
Through this route you travel 60 km towards West of Lindi. The second route is through the all-weather road to the Plantation from Lindi by taking the tarmac Lindi – Masasi road to Nyengedi (55 km), where there is a turning to the north. Proceed on this 25 km earth road past St. Cyprian’s College on the crest of the Rondo (Mwera) plateau until reaching the village of Ntene. By this road you travel 80 km.
The initial planting of exotic species was extensively done from 1952 in an over-exploited area. Exotic Pine and Teak species were mainly planted. Indigenous species of Milicia excelsa was also planted to establish a pure hardwood plantation of Milicia excelsa. The initial aim was to establish a plantation forest at the whole area, but due to lack of funds the establishment ended with 2073.7 Ha (Pinus caribaea 1,576.5 ha, Tectona grandis 218.0 ha and 279.2 ha planted with Milicia excelsa) and the rest of the area was left to regenerate as natural forest. During this plan period, the natural forest area will be upgraded to a Nature Reserve.
Following the process of establishing a Nature Reserve, in 2013 Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) divided Rondo Forest Reserve into 2 separate management units (Rondo Forest Plantation and Rondo Nature Reserve). The area of the Plantation comprises of the area previously planted with Pinus caribaea and Tectona grandis and the expansion area of 821.59Ha at Nanyolyo valley. Compartments number H29, H30, H31, H32 and H33 of total area 268.2Ha planted with Milicia excelsa was left to Nature Reserve (NR) area as the species did not perform well and the area became a closed forest.
1.2.2. Legal Status and Ownership
Rondo Forest Reserve (RFR) was originally gazetted by the Germans in 1909. The original gazettement was made on a map ref. RS/L/4/1,1:25,000 and Declaration order Cap 132 of 1998; variation Order 354/20/11 of 1959 superseded by Cap 389 - supp. 59 of 1959, p. 65.
The Forest and the land are owned by the Government of Tanzania and the reserve was gazetted under Government Notice No.354 of 1959 as shown on the JB 464 map. The main objective is to supply wood material to present and future wood industries and to provide employment to the surrounding people.
The total plantation area is 2,979.1Ha including residential area. The area boundary has a length of 32.35 kilometers
1.3.2. Topography and hydrology
The forest is located on part of the Rondo (Mwera) plateau at around 870m.a.s.l to a maximum of 885m.a.s.l. The forest has little catchment value since surface water never forms on highly porous soils even during periods of heavy rainfall. The water table is said to be 300 m below the plateau surface.
1.3.3. Geology and Soils
The rock formation is by deposition of fragments of parental rock material. The dominant rock type found in the plantation is thus sedimentary rock, which is mainly sandstone. Soils are deep, leached sandy soils derived from terrestrial sands, gravels, calcretes and laterites of Miocene to Pleistocene age.
There is a problem of wild animals entering the forest and cause damage to trees. The most common wild animals are Elephants. However no severe damage had been reported caused by these animals.
1.4.1. Rainfall Distribution and Reliability
The plantation receives a single rain season from November to May with an average annual rainfall of 1100mm. Rainfall on the Rondo Plateau appears to be quite variable within a distance of few kilometres. For example average rainfall recorded at Ntene station (Rondo) for the 19 years prior to 1973 was 1215 mm. A much lower rainfall was recorded at nearby St. Cyprian’s College with 1034mm per annum for the 10 years prior to 1973. Recent rainfall data are not available.
Temperatures vary between 32°C and 11°C with the coolest period between June and August. A minimum monthly mean of 15°C (August) and a maximum monthly mean of 31°C (December) were recorded in 1952.