May 182012

CRC works tirelessly to help researchers and students to achieve their goals for research and studies. To promote their work I have dedicated a map over Tanzanian protected areas to them. I am hoping this will contribute to giving CRC their well deserved focus in the year to come. Download the map for free and enjoy.

This posting has been slightly updated since it was first published January the 5th this year. Since then both the content management system and server has changed. This led to the links to the maps being broken for some time. It is therefore posted again to allow new users to download the map.

It is my sincere hope that this map will help focusing on the excellent work done by Dassa Nkini and her team at the Tanzania Conservation Resource Centre. You may read more about their activities on their webpage or on Facebook:

CRC also accepts donations, and should you want to support them with some funding we suggest you use paypal according to their webpage.

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The map has been designed to give its user an overview of the wide range of protected areas in Tanzania.

For professional maps I would advice you to more detailed maps available from Tanzania National Parks, at their national park centers and bookstores:

About the map

The World Database for Protected areas (WDPA) 2010 is a widely used basis for research on land use and biological systems on different levels in a country. The dataset contains crucial information from national governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, international biodiversity convention secretariats and many others.

The WDPA 2010 dataset was used to make this map. As mentioned in the chapter below on national level protected area data this is a data set with some challenges. The scope of the provided map is however not to provide fully detailed map on protected areas, but rather give the user an impression of the vast number of protected areas in Tanzania. Tanzania is more than Serengeti national park and Selous Game Reserve. The map is as such an indication of the Tanzanian governments commitment to protect areas of importance – on a local, regional, national and international level.

The map has several shortcomings:

  • The keen reader will see that the data used as basis for this map comes from sources of different scales, quality levels and documentation. The last issue, lack of documentation, also makes it inherently difficult to provide a map like this with proper references. I sincerely hope that better documentation (meta data) will get more focus. For maps like the one provided here it is good to have proper sources. But for environmental impact analyses on different scales it is very important to be able to work with quality assured data sets.
  • The cartography of this map is under development. Please provide the cartographer with viewpoints and suggestions on the current presentation.


We will update the map with the 2011 data when they are made available sometime later in 2012.

National level protected area data from WDPA
Keeping track of protected areas is, even for one government, at times a complex task. National parks are usually not a problem, but moving down towards areas with protection on a regional or local level things soon get blurred out.

Ideally the protected areas should be published by the Tanzanian government. In Tanzania, as in many other countries, the decision to give an area a protected area status is made in parliament. Such decisions are however usually made by through a text describing landscape features, current administrative borders, coordinates, roads and other. Some of these are of a temporary character and as such contribute to the confusion when spatial data sets (shapefiles) are made for later analysis. To my knowledge there is no central repository for protected area data. The data provided to WDPA is from several resources and can as such only be considered indicative of the actual areas. So for WDPA is the one best source for the protected area data.

In their own words WDPA describe their project this way:

”The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the most comprehensive global spatial dataset on marine and terrestrial protected areas available.

Protected areas are internationally recognised as major tools in conserving species and ecosystems. Up to date information on protected areas is essential to enable a wide range of conservation and development activities.

Since 1981 UNEP-WCMC, through its Protected Areas Programme, has been compiling this information and making it available to the global community. The WDPA is a joint project of UNEP and IUCN, produced by UNEP-WCMC and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas working with governments and collaborating NGOs.”

Their idea is a good one. But the maps produced rely on data from a variety of sources. Some sources are good, some are official, and some are downright wrong in their descriptions of protected areas. As you all know there might be many excuses for bad spatial data. Accidental changes, the usual playing around with datums, unclear ownerships leading to false areas and more. We have at least five categories of errors:

  • Areas erroneously listed as protected areas
  • Omitted protected areas
  • Inaccurate borders
  • Correct area but the wrong category
  • Areas without names, or with wrong names

The intention should then be to inform the general public about the status of the data and bring about more focus on making better data.

SRTM digital elevation model
The shaded relief used in this map has been made using a digital elevation data set initially available from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). To generate the hillshade effect the GDAL was used. GDAL is an open source library with functionality to work on raster imagery.

The roads and railway data used in this map are from the OpenStreetMap project. The data set is not the most important in this m ap, but it provides context for the presented protected areas. If you are not happy about the quality of the roads, then contribute with your own tracks and editing skills.

The main aim of this map is to highlight the number of protected areas in Tanzania. It should be clear for the user that this is not a road map nor a map for planning your vacations. Opinions on the cartography are most welcome and changes might be made upon popular request.

Change log
The map has undergone several changes since its initial publication in the end of December 2011. I have decided to document changes from the version dated the 8th of January .


  • Replaced infrastructure data of dubious origin with well documented data from OpenStreetMap as provided by Howard Frederick.
  • Corrected the misspell of the Liparamba Game Reserve by tip from Arthur Grawehr
  • Cartography and more (Andrew Williams, Synne Rudsar and Howard Frederick)
  • Added marine protected areas
  • Added names on all smaller protected areas
  • Protected area category is indicated by acronyms behind the name, eg: Serengeti (NP).


Ragnvald Larsen

Creative Commons License

Material on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You’re welcome to use and change it, but must share it in the same way and give credit to the author.

  4 Responses to “Tanzania protected areas poster map available for download”

  1. […] Howard Frederick in early January this year. I used this dataset in my Tanzania Protected areas map earlier published on this site. OpenStreetmap has mapped a total of 48.363 kms divided among 10.253 segments in all of Tanzania. […]

  2. The map looks great! Did you do it in QGIS? If so, could you share the project data?

  3. Thanks! I used ArcGIS. But the map is due for an update. Will try to use QGIS next time and make the project available.

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