Jozani Forest lies at the heart of Jozani - Chwaka Bay National Park, straddling a narrow belt of land linking the east and west coast of the island. It is the largest area of mature indigenous forest on Unguja, and home to possibly the island’s most famous and photographed resident, the Zanzibar red colobus monkey. The forest stands on a shallow depression in the fossil coral bed, bordered by dry coral rag forest and thicket either side, and by mangrove forests and salt marshes to the north and south.
The diverse range of natural habitats to be found in the national park supports a variety of rare, endangered and endemic species, including the Ader’s duiker, as well as Sykes monkeys, bush babies, African civet, giant elephant shrews, and chameleons as well as more than 100 species of brightly coloured butterflies and around 83 species of birds. Several nature trails lead through the shady depths, winding beneath the towering red mahogany trees, sycamore figs, raffia palm and wild date palms, before leading out through a plantation of whistling pine.
The forest has been protected since 1950. Around a kilometre south of the visitors centre and cafe is the Mangrove Forest Boardwalk, which leads through a surreal landscape of spidery mangrove roots and mushroom-like nodules poking up through the brackish water below. Tropical fish dart around in the shallows beneath the boards, while crabs feast in the nutrient rich mud among the roots of the nine species of mangroves.
The Jozani - Chwaka Bay National Park was established in 1995, and is working in partnership with people from the surrounding villages to help conserve its fragile ecosystems. Practical activities, such as mangrove replanting projects are combined with educational activities, as well as training and support on sustainable management techniques. The Jozani Environmental Conservation Association (JECA), represents these communities and allows them to have a say in the running of the park.
The education of children also plays a significant role in the conservation effort, and local school children are brought here to learn about the value of the forest and its surrounding environment. The majority of revenue generated by visitors to the park is ploughed back into conservation work, as well as supporting community projects such as schools and health facilities. Entrance to Jozanzi Forest and the Mangrove Forest Boardwalk costs US$8, which includes an accompanying guide, although a tip is always appreciated. Top