Posted on :Tuesday , 31st January 2023
Tanzanian people are being empowered to manage forests in a sustainable manner.
97% of the 48 million hectares of forest in Tanzania are primary forests. Due to the rising need for raw materials and their byproducts, many anticipate that these assets will open up new income prospects for the Tanzanian labour force.
In the woods of southeast Tanzania, hardwood timber is one of the more valued natural resources.
For rural populations that depend on forests, ethically collecting and selling the main hardwood timber species could result in large monetary benefits. In order to make this successful, there must be enough huge trees left on village land, and harvesters must be paid fairly for the wood they sell.
In order to manage southern Tanzania's miombo woods sustainably, the initiative brings together partners Mpingo Conservation Development Initiative (MCDI) and Kilombero Valley Teak Company (KVTC).
Village Land Forest Reserves (VLFRs), enacted by the Tanzanian government to encourage forest protection by granting communities responsibility to manage woods around their village, have been pioneered in setting up and sustaining by lead partner MCDI, a conservation NGO. VLFRs have an edge in the market since they are able to sell for less than commercial enterprises that must pay royalties to the government. The foundation of the VLFR concept is a transfer of networks, skills, knowledge, and market access that benefits both parties.
By protecting the forests that surround its teak plantations and uniting local populations into VLFRs, leading international teak plantations KVTC is also able to fulfil its sustainability objective. The standing forest is then managed by the communities, and locally elected village natural resources committees watch over the adherence to community land use plans. In exchange, KVTC assists the reserves in gaining access to markets for their timber products and contributes its commercial expertise to assist MCDI in becoming a self-sustaining organization.
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood used in the project, namely the mpingo tree (Dalbergia melanoxylon). One of the most economically valuable woods in the world, it is mostly used to make high-end musical instruments and furniture.
The first and sole Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation of a community-managed natural forest in Africa has been made possible by MCDI. Both communities and the environment receive real benefits from the strategy.
The team has helped 90 villages in Tanzania get legal title to their local woods and manage them sustainably. With more than 200,000 hectares of natural forests, 17 of those villages have received the most strict certification available: FSC.
These communities are currently actively engaged in the preservation of their woods and profit greatly from community-based forestry businesses. The communities are connected to the market for high-end musical instruments through their cooperation with MCDI, selling their Mpingo logs to companies like Yamaha and Gibson Guitars. The MCDI partner villages have seen an increase in their average yearly revenue from around TZS 10M (approximately USD 4,300) to TZS 80M+, indicating that this strategy has been largely successful (about USD 35,000). Where these funds are invested is up to the villages.