ARUSHA, Tanzania, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Protected forest in northern Tanzania's Chome Nature Reserve is threatened by illegal activities of artisanal gold mining, authorities warned on Sunday.
Rosemary Staki, Same District Commissioner, said groups of artisanal miners have stormed the reserve in search of gold, polluting rivers and the ground with toxic substances.
The reserve lies in the Eastern Arc Mountains, and is located few kilometers from Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain.
Staki said that Tanzanian government plans to set up a patrol camp deep into the forest to save the 14,000 hectares of forests located in the Pare Mountains, between the West Usambara and the North Pare Mountains.
"I have witnessed the environmental destruction of highest scale. In some areas, 2 kilometers of the forest are completely destroyed by the miners," she said in an interview.
The official added that a team of forest rangers has been sent into the affected forests to remove the artisanal miners.
According to her, local governments have been tasked to come up with community policing groups as a sustainable measure to address illegal mining in the forest, which is surrounded by 27 villages.
Asteriko Mahiga, Officer Commanding District (OCD), said so far, six artisanal miners have been arrested for mining in the protected areas.
According to the country's Mining Act Number 14 of 2010, no one will be allowed to perform any exploration or mining activity without the approval of the authorities.