Muheza District is the most northerly coastal district in Tanzania, bordering Kenya and stretching from the coast into the East Usambara mountains. It contains a wide variety of natural habitats, including low-altitude and coastal forest, and some thicket. Much of the low coastal plain is covered in sisal and coconut plantations, on land cleared of closed-canopy forest. The Sigi river drains the central catchment of the East Usambara and enters the sea to the north of Tanga.There are 37 Forest Reserves listed for Muheza District, but most of these are associated with the East Usambara mountains (TZ070). There are a few isolated forests at lower altitudes between the Usambaras and the coast. These include Kilulu Hill (160 ha), Amboni Caves (350 ha), Pangani Falls (10 ha), Kwani (2,545 ha; only 600 ha of forest cover) and Tongwe-Muheza (1,202 ha; only 300 ha of forest cover). Other reserves such as Bassi (1,197 ha, but cleared for exotics), Gombero (2,399 ha, but cleared for agriculture) are excluded from the IBA.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Recent records from the Pangani river include Scotopelia peli and Podica senegalensis. Anthus sokokensis may also occur at this site but the only records are from the 1930s.
Non-bird biodiversity: There are several coastal forest endemic mammals, reptiles, amphibians and plants. The latter include populations of plants (African violets) Saintpaulia spp. on Tongwe Hill.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Much of the original coastal forest cover has been cleared for sisal plantations or, more recently, for exotic tree species and agriculture. Regular burning is a serious problem at both Tongwe and Kwani Forest Reserves. Encroachment is becoming more of an issue at all sites.