In a geographical area consisting of varying potentials, naturally people will tend to exploit areas where they will gain more productivity with minimum investment. However, they will move towards the marginal areas as resources become depleted in the formally high potential areas. This study is aimed at establishing how communities have responded to diminishing resource base in the Pare-Usambara area of northeastern Tanzania. In the Pare-Usambara area, highlands formally highly endowed with natural resources are surrounded by marginally endowed lowlands on the west. The study was conducted through literature review and field data collection using PRA techniques and questionnaire survey. Findings from this study show that resources have been depleted in the highlands mainly due to population pressure, thus forcing people to move out into the marginal areas i.e. the lowlands. In both areas, land is acquired mainly through inheritance, which leads into land fragmentation, decline in land productivity, and freeze of fallow system. Increased migration into the lowlands is inserting pressure on natural resources resulting in cultivation replacing livestock keeping and land shortage as the case for the highlands. In both uplands and lowlands, more than 50% of households own not more than 2 acres of land.
Key words: Natural resources, population, impacts.
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