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Jozani-Chwaka Bay Biosphere Reserve, Tanzania

The Jozani – Chwaka Bay Biosphere Reserve contains the only national park on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania. Its landscape is a mosaic of mangroves, tropical forests and coral rug forests, as well as groundwater, salt marshes, and agricultural and residential areas. The site is a biodiversity hotspot home to reef fish species, dolphins and 168 species of birds including 30 species of global and regional importance. Out of the site’s 291 known plant species, 21 are considered to be endangered.

The inhabitants of the reserve live mainly from activities related to tourism, fishing, beekeeping, butterfly rearing and crab fattening.

Designation date: 2016


Regional network:  AfriMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 21,274 ha

    • Core area(s): 2,063 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 4,227 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 14,984 ha

    Location: 6°14’9”S – 39°25’11”E

    Administrative Authorities

    Department of Forestry and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Village Conservation Committees 

    Director of Forestry and Non Renewable Natural Resources
    P.O. Box 3526 
    255 Zanzibar

    Tel.: +255 242238628


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    Ecological Characteristics

    The area is virtually flat, with the exception of groundwater forest, which features moderate slopes on the western and eastern sides. The soil of the Jozani forest is rich, black and highly organic, but ceases abruptly at the forest margin, giving way to broken coral rag with shallow pockets of light brown sandy soil. 

    The landscape is a mosaic of mangroves, tropical forests and coral rug forests, groundwater, salt marshes, and agricultural and residential areas, making the area a biodiversity hotspot. Out of the 291 plants species, which belong to 83 families, 21 are under threat or endangered. Several plant species are used for traditional medicines.

    The area is home to many faunal species including the African civet (Civettictis civetta), mangrove kingfisher (Halcyon senegaloides) and African goshawk (Accipiter tachiro), as well as endangered endemic species such as the Kassina Jozani frog, Zanzibar red colobus (Piliocolobus kirkii), Aders’ duiker (Cephalophus adersi) and Zanzibar servaline genet (Genetta servalina archeri).

    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The core and buffer zones are uninhabited, however, 16,423 people live and practise their livelihoods in the transition zone. The present population around the biosphere reserve is culturally heterogeneous comprising Bantu, Hadimu and Shirazi, with Hadimu being the majority ethnic group and Bantu the minority. Tourism, followed by agriculture and fishing are the most important economic activities, although the local population also practise livestock keeping, and earn their livelihoods from forest products and non-wood forest products such as beekeeping and handicrafts. 

    Similar characteristic and ritual activities are found among the communities who reside in the vicinity of the biosphere reserve. The Mapopwe preserve shrines while parts of the reserve celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad in the third month of the Islamic calendar (Hijra).


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    Last updated: February 2019