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3.14 Country paper: Tanzania


Reality and perspectives
Tanzania Country Paper
Written by
A. I. M. Dallu
Principal Forest Officer
Forest and Beekeeping Division
P. O. Box 426
Dar es Salaam



Reality and perspectives
In collaboration with ICRAF and CIFOR
Nairobi, Kenya, 9-13 December 2002


Forests and woodlands in Tanzania cover 38.8 million ha representing about 40.4 per cent of the total land area. Out of this area, 13 million ha have been gazetted as forest reserves while about 1.6 million ha of the gazetted forest reserves are under water catchment management. Woodland is the dominant forest type covering large areas in the western and southern parts of the country. The land use types in Tanzania are smallholder cultivation (4.1 per cent), large-scale agriculture (0.6 per cent), grazing land (46.9 per cent), forests and woodlands (40.4 per cent), urban development land (1.7 per cent), and inland waters (6.3 per cent).

Secondary forests are defined as forests regenerating largely through natural processes after significant human and natural disturbances of the original forest vegetation and displaying a major difference in forest structure and canopy species composition with respect to nearby primary forests on similar sites. Going by this definition, five types of secondary forests have been discussed in this paper.

The post extraction secondary forests include the famous miombo woodlands in the country. They are found almost throughout Tanzania at altitudes ranging from 300 m to 1300 m depending on the climatic conditions. They are managed for supply of fine hardwood to meet the domestic demand for wood based products. The miombo forests are also renowned for beekeeping, hunting and charcoal production activities.

The Swidden fallow secondary forests can be compared with woodland with scattered cropland in the vegetation distribution map of Tanzania. It is found along the central railway line, mainly in the drier central plateau of the country. They sustain the extraction of fuel wood and construction poles, which are essential inputs to the livelihoods of forest adjacent communities.

The rehabilitated secondary forests are largely degraded lands due to overgrazing and shifting agriculture. These found in Dodoma and Shinyanga regions. The Government of Tanzania is spending a lot of money to restore the vegetation on gullies and bare lands. As these are areas recovering from overgrazing, forests in this category are used mainly by people living around as firewood and as fodder crop.

A number of by laws are also in place to control wildfires, shifting cultivation and other known agents of deforestation.

The post fire secondary forests cover large areas in Tanzania, much of it having developed as a result of frequent fires and overgrazing. The extensive savanna woodlands in the semi arid central, western and southern parts of the country constitute a post fire secondary zone where the potential for forestry as a major productivity activity is high. However vast tracts of land under this category are game controlled areas. Otherwise grazing is an important activity in this forest category, which is more often regarded as potential rangeland.

The post abandonment secondary forests are generally dry lands with low potential of regeneration. They are used by the local communities as rangelands in central Tanzania and as potential farmlands in the southern part of the country.

Several approaches have been tried to put the secondary forests under effective management. These include the traditional woodland management approach where a forest manager would plan and manage a woodland in isolation to participatory forest management approach which is a strategy to achieve sustainable forest management by promoting the management of a woodland by involving communities living close to the forest resources. Whatever approach chosen these forests are still faced by a number of problems such as deforestation, land degradation, lack of inventory data necessary for planning and management etc. Deforestation and land degradation are a result of, among other things, insecure land tenure, resulting from absence of land use planning.

Some recommendations have been put forward for sustainable secondary forest management in the country; following are highlights of the same.


Forests and woodlands in Tanzania cover 38.8 million ha representing about 40.4 per cent of the total land area. Out of this area, 13 million ha have been gazetted as forest reserves while about 1.6 million ha of the gazetted forest reserves are under water catchment management. Forests and woodlands provide a myriad of goods and services to both local and urban communities in the country and beyond. They maintain biological diversity, conserve water, protect unique ecosystems and provide for wildlife habitat. These forests and woodlands are however subjected to deforestation and degradation. Current estimates put the deforestation rate to be in the region of 91,276 ha per annum (FBD, 2000a) caused by unsustainable forestland uses, including unsustainable agricultural practices, livestock grazing, wildfires, etc. Presently over 66 per cent of the total forest area falls under general land and due to lack of responsible institution these forests are rapidly deforested and degraded through socio-economic activities.

The country has closed evergreen forests in high altitude mountain areas (Kilimanjaro, the Eastern Arc and the Southern Highlands) with over 1,000 mm annual rainfall. These forests have very rich biodiversity with stocking of 200-to 400 m³/ha. Woodland is the dominant forest type covering large areas in the western and southern parts of the country. Its stocking is estimated to be between 20 to 100 m³/ha. The estimated annual increment of harvestable volume in the woodlands is about 70 million m³ while the annual extraction of wood is approximately 30 million m³. Wood growth is unevenly distributed, particularly in central Tanzania with its low rainfall and sparse vegetation.

The population of Tanzania is estimated to be 32 million to date with an annual growth rate of 2.8 per cent (pers. com., NBS, 2000). Urban growth rates are considerably higher. The increase in population in some areas has a major impact on forest and woodland resources, particularly in terms of fuel for household use. Generally woodlands near densely populated and accessible areas are subjected to over-exploitation, while large areas of woodlands in remote areas are still untapped.

The land use types in Tanzania are smallholder cultivation (4.1 per cent), large-scale agriculture (0.6 per cent), grazing land (46.9 per cent), forests and woodlands (40.4 per cent), urban development land (1.7 per cent) and inland waters (6.3 per cent) (TFAP, 1989).

The Forestry sector contributes significantly to the economy of the country. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Forestry and Wildlife are estimated to contribute about 3.3 per cent to the GDP and about 10 per cent of the country's registered exports. However, the sector's real contribution is grossly underestimated because there is substantial unrecorded consumption of wood fuels in the rural areas. In addition, the value of other forest products, traded informally, is not taken in account. Bio-energy consumption is estimated to account for more than 92 per cent of the total energy consumption in Tanzania. The most important industrial wood product is sawn wood, which is mainly used in building construction, joinery and furniture industries. The end users are growing fast and sawn wood demand is projected to double in the next ten years. The per capita consumption is estimated at 1m³ per year. The Forestry sector provides 730,000 person years of employment (Ngaga, 1998). Moreover a large number of people are engaged in the informal sector e.g charcoal business.

In 1998, the Government approved a revised National Forest Policy, which took cognisance of the national macro-economic and social policies as well as other sectoral Policies addressing sustainable development. The goal for the revised Forest Policy is to enhance the contribution of the Forest Sector to sustainable development of Tanzania and the conservation and management of her natural resources for the benefit of the present and future generations.

This country report tries to review the current knowledge, and socio-economic and ecological importance of the different types of secondary forests in Tanzania.


2.1 Closed forests

Several types of closed forest occur in Tanzania.

2.2 Woodland

Woodland is the dominant vegetation cover in Tanzania. Two important tree genera in the drier forests and grasslands of Africa are Acacia and Brachystegia. Brachystegia species form the highly utilized open to closed miombo woodlands and Acacia species are dominating the widespread savanna (open) woodlands (Eliapenda, 2000).

The majority of miombo woodland species shed leaves during the dry season but because they have deep taproots with access to deep soil moisture and nutrients, they flush before the dry season ends. Flowering occurs throughout the year with a peak during August- November. In many species, fruit production is irregular and seed dormancy is rare. Generally seed germination occurs during the rainy season immediately after dispersal. Germination rates are good although seed mortality may be very high during germination and the first year of the seedlings. Seedlings grow very slow as they initially allocate more biomass to root growth. Shoot growth is also hampered by recurrent die back caused by both drought and fire. Post felling regeneration of miombo is from coppice of stump, roots and from stunted seedlings in the herb layer. Regeneration from seedlings in the first regrowth makes up over 50 per cent of tree density. Most species require high light intensities for sapling development. Competition and fire reduce tree density during regrowth maturation. Many of these silvicultural characteristics of miombo woodland are adaptations to fire, drought and felling (Chidumayo, 1992).


Secondary forests are defined in the Terms of Reference (ToR) for this Workshop as forests regenerating largely through natural processes after significant human and/or natural disturbance of the original forest vegetation at a single point in time or over an extended period, and displaying a major difference in forest structure and/or canopy species composition with respect to nearby primary forests on similar sites (Chokkalingam and De Jong, 2001). The different types of secondary forest and woodland in Tanzania are described with indication of the typical kind of primary forest associated with it, where known.

3.1 Post extraction secondary forests

This category includes mainly the closed forests where uncontrolled timber harvesting took place. The area of this kind of secondary forest is unknown, as well as the typical species and structural composition of secondary forests within montane, lowland, riverine and mangrove forest that would differentiate it from the primary forest communities. Post extraction secondary miombo woodland and savanna woodland would be more difficult to distinguish, and would form part of post fire secondary woodland communities in these formations.

In a dry Afromontane forest at Mafai, Central Tanzania, Lyaruu, et al. (2000) showed that the population densities of species selectively harvested for timber (such as Podocarpus falcatus, Podocarpus latifolius, Prunus africana, and Rapanea melanophloeos) were very low. Non-timber species, such as Albizia glaberrima, Drypetes reticulata, Drypetes usambarica, Ochna holstii, Oxyanthus speciosus and Xymalos monospora were the most abundant tree species in the forest.

3.2 Swidden fallow secondary forests

Shifting cultivation, with both bush fallow and commercial fallow, is practiced in most parts of Tanzania. The Swidden fallow secondary forests can, by its definition, be compared with woodland with scattered cropland. Tree crowns are widely spaced with either dense shrub undergrowth or a grass cover without shrubs. Trees can be deciduous or evergreen or a mixture of both. It is found along the central railway line, mainly in the drier central plateau of the country (Singida and Shinyanga regions). It dominates in the flat to gently sloping terrain. The main species occurring in this group are Acacia spp, Commiphora spp and Balanites spp with very low regeneration potential. The area covered by this type of forest is estimated to be 6.9 million ha.

3.3 Rehabilitated secondary forests

Large areas of Central Tanzania is characterized by a semi-arid type of climate and has various types of vegetation including grasslands, wooded grasslands, bushes and scrubs, thickets, dry woodlands and a few montane forests, all of which are exposed to various types of soil and vegetation degradation. Improper cultivation practices, deforestation, overgrazing, fires and collection of wood for fuel and construction are the major causes of vegetation degradation in this region (Rapp et al. 1973; Dejene et al. 1997). Dodoma and Shinyanga regions are degraded lands largely due to overgrazing and shifting agriculture. The overstocking of livestock relative to the carrying capacity within Dodoma region has led to the development of dispersed gullies in Kondoa district. The affected area (The Kondoa Eroded Area) is estimated to be 125,550 ha. The Government of Tanzania is spending a lot of money to restore the vegetation on gullies/bare lands. Destocking, confining cattle and restricting shifting agriculture, promote natural regeneration of originally miombo and Acacia spp. Tree planting is done using multipurpose species like Cassia siamea and Leucaena spp. Various studies were done on the Kondoa Irangi Hills in semi-arid Tanzania, which was protected since 1979. Before protection, the woodlands were subjected to heavy grazing, cutting for fuelwood and cultivation on the hill slopes (Backéus et al. 1994). Since then a partial but slow recovery of the vegetation has been observed. Today woodland and grassland dominate. The common trees in the woodlands are Acacia tortilis, A. seyal, A. senegal, A. nilotica, Brachystegia spiciformis, B. microphylla, Julbernardia globiflora, Terminalia sericea, Markhamia obtusifolia, Combretum molle and Euphorbia candelabrum. As a result of frequent fires, treeless grasslands also occur (Backéus et al. 1994). Grazing and cutting for fuelwood have frequently been observed since 1995 although the area is still under protection. Eliapenda (2000) showed that protection against fire, human extraction of wood and grazing by domestic animals, from 1995 to 1997, increased the Acacia seyal population density from between 18 and 90 per cent. In unprotected plots, the density decreased between 8 per cent and 33 per cent. Population structures were characterized by a relatively high number of plants in the lower stem size classes, which suggested that the species benefited from protection against grazing and firewood collection since 1979. The population density for Brachystegia spiciformis in the same area and period increased by 29 per cent in the protected plots and 5 per cent in the unprotected plots. The recruitment rates were substantially higher in the protected plots than in the unprotected ones. Overstocking has also been a problem in Shinyanga region. Furthermore there has been a lot of forest clearing in the past to eradicate tsetse flies. Consequently large areas of closed woodlands in the region have degenerated to semi arid lands covered by Acacia spp with thorny bushes. The degraded land in Shinyanga, which is now under rehabilitation, is estimated to be 504,200 ha. The topography of the region is generally flat.

3.4 Post fire secondary forests

There is no clear line of distinction between this group and the open woodland formation. However these forests cover large areas in Tanzania, much of it having developed as a result of frequent fires and over grazing. Quite a significant area of post fire secondary forests in the country is found in some parts of Tabora, Dodoma, Singida and Morogoro regions especially in the low altitudes. The dominant species are Afrormosia spp and Combretum spp. Annual fires burn large tracts of undulating lands during the dry season. Cattle herders set fire when the vegetation has dried in order to induce regeneration of fresh grass, while peasants use fire during the dry season to prepare their agricultural plots. Bee smoking is another main cause of forest fires. In many cases such fires have been very destructive, reducing grazing potential and exposing lands to soil erosion. However the tendency is for the bare lands to regenerate quickly to green landscapes at the onset of the rainy season. This is part of general savanna woodland dynamics, and is not strictly speaking secondary forest. The problem here is when is the floristic-structural composition dependent on fire as a regular and natural process, and when has fire been used in such a way that the forest or woodland (open or closed) became degraded (to develop into secondary forest or woodland, after removal of the cause of extreme degradation by fire).

3.5 Post abandonment secondary forests

There are two main sites in the country where its vegetation is dominated by post abandonment secondary forests. Just before independence the colonial administration launched a huge groundnut scheme at Kongwa district in central Tanzania where vast areas of forests were cleared to allow for agricultural activities. For some reasons the project was dropped (or abandoned) a few years after take off. In southern Tanzania a similar situation happened whereby forests were cleared to launch yet another groundnut scheme at Nachingwea district in Lindi region. Again the project ceased a few years after its commencement. The two sites above have been abandoned for many years, and this gave chance for secondary woody vegetation to colonize the areas. Kongwa district in Dodoma region has turned into wooded grassland with scattered cropland while the forest cover in Nachingwea has changed into vegetation similar to open woodlands discussed above. Generally these are dry lands with a low potential of woodland regeneration.


There is no conscious differentiation between resource use from primary and secondary forests. The forests and woodlands contain some commercial timber species as mentioned in section 2. They are managed for sustained supply of fine hardwoods to meet the domestic demand for wood based products. Harvesting is a common activity in the woodlands.

Timber is harvested mostly by pit sawyers and several licensed sawmills. Pit sawing alone meets almost half of the total wood requirement in the country. Nevertheless, in some areas illegal harvesting goes on due to poor control. The most important industrial wood product from the woodlands is sawn wood, which is mainly used for building construction, joinery and furniture industries. The miombo forests are also famous for beekeeping, hunting and charcoal production activities throughout the country, although Tabora region dominates the beekeeping industry. Generally these are all income-generating activities to improve the living conditions of local communities living adjacent to the woodlands.

Catchment forests play an important role in the socio-economic development of the country. They regulate water supply, consolidate animal habitat and conserve the soils. Catchment forests are known to be rich in species endemism and have therefore provided a rich source of genes for scientific studies.

Mangroves are highly productive ecosystems, which are not only able to provide a range of valuable forest products, but also contribute to the productivity of the coastal waters and prevent coastal erosion. They provide natural protection against a turbulent sea and reduce storm damage. Mangroves also play an important role in maintaining in shore water quality and provide suitable habitats for many commercially important species and prawns. They are spawning and nursery grounds for many species of fish as well as crab oysters. They are also feeding and nesting grounds for many sea birds and other wildlife.

The Swidden fallow secondary forests sustain the extraction of fuel wood and construction poles, which are essential inputs to the livelihoods of communities living adjacent to forests. Fuel wood is the most important wood product in Tanzania. Extraction of fuel wood is done in almost all categories of secondary forests. Its current consumption in the country is estimated at about 32 million m³ (based on the assumption that fuel wood consumption is only 1m³/person/year). The future demand levels depend on population growth, income and alternative use of energy. Otherwise fuel wood is used for cooking and also for heating during cold seasons especially in high altitude areas. A limited number of households in some parts of the country use fuel wood for income generating activities such as brick and pot making. On the other hand the local communities use poles for the construction of houses and other shelters. In the Swidden fallow secondary forests the potential for commercial timber logging is definitely low.

Rehabilitated secondary forests occur in fragile environments, which need careful resource planning and management to avoid a repeat of land degradation. Development of sustainable land husbandry in fragile lands is critical to the survival of the local communities (see Eliapenda, 2000). People living in and around these areas, use the vegetation as firewood and as fodder crop and in most cases the villagers practice zero grazing to discourage abusive land use (Backéus, et al. 1994). A number of bylaws are also in place to control wild fires, shifting cultivation and other known agents of deforestation. Examples in the country are the two soil conservation projects HADO and HASHI in Dodoma and Shinyanga regions respectively.

The extensive savanna woodlands in the semi arid central, western and southern parts of the country constitute a post fire secondary forest zone where the potential for forestry as a major productive activity is high but where population densities are relatively low. Vast tracts of land under this category are game controlled areas and game reserves. Nonetheless a wide range of forest products is extracted from the post fire secondary forests. The main wood products are fuel wood and poles while the non-wood forest products include thatching grass, honey production, fruits etc. Communities living close to the forests collect these products for domestic use. Grazing is an important activity in post fire secondary forests, often also regarded as potential rangelands. The Ministry of Water and Livestock Development takes care of rangelands. Cattle herders migrate from semi arid areas in the country to places where there is enough fodder especially during the dry season. Cattle in Tanzania are kept as a source of income although some tribes regard it as a sign of wealth.

The post abandonment secondary forests are used by the local communities to date as rangelands in central Tanzania and as potential farmlands in the southern part of the country.

Forests and woodlands in Tanzania, including secondary forests, still cover vast areas and have a great potential to provide wood and non wood products for human needs. However these forests face major risks of degradation because commercial harvesting goes on without proper control, resulting in continuing deterioration of the resource base with negative consequences to its productivity. Population growth is another factor with a direct bearing on the secondary forests. As the population increases more and more, forest and woodland is converted to other land uses to meet basic needs. Shifting cultivation as a means of agriculture expansion, overgrazing and wild fires are the main factors for the fast disappearing of the woodlands. An influx of refugees from neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi has had a devastating effect on some forested areas in Kagera, Kigoma and Tabora regions. Land tenure/ownership perhaps can solve the situation because it is the basis for land development activities. Land use conflicts have to be solved before any effort is emphasized to protect, conserve and manage the secondary forests on a sustainable basis.


The forestry sector administration in the country is operating under two parallel ministries namely the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) and the Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government, under the president's office (PO-MRALG). The MNRT through the Forestry and Beekeeping Division (FBD) owns and manages ideally all central government forest reserves and trees in general lands. The PO-MRALG on the other hand owns and manages forests which are under its jurisdiction at the district (local government forest reserves) and regional levels.

The decentralized administration has brought the decision making closer to the people but lack of one chain of command has at times brought in duplication of efforts and conflicts in interests. However the ongoing public and local government reforms provide a platform for improving the weak link and enhance capacity in the respective levels.

Secondary forests can either be on reserved forest land or non reserved forest land. Reserved forests are usually under some sort of formal protection, although they are under a continuous threat in Tanzania due to encroachment, shifting cultivation, wild fires, illegal harvesting and unclear boundaries. One major activity done from time to time is patrolling to guard against illegal activities mentioned above.

A large part of non-reserved forest land is not under any ownership or proper guidance. Therefore there is heavy pressure for conversion to competing land uses such as agriculture, livestock grazing, settlement and industrial development. Furthermore no incentive system exists so far for encouraging sustainable forest management on general lands. Consequently most deforestation is taking place in non-reserved land. Community based forest management (CBFM) is actively undertaken in Arusha and Singida regions with Duru Haitemba (9,000 ha) and Mgori (40,000 ha) forests setting the best practices of secondary forest management by the local community. The villagers decided to put adjacent natural forest lands under intensive management. These forests are managed for provision of wood and non-forest products, vegetation restoration and for soil conservation purposes. The main activities done by the villagers themselves are boundary clearing and patrolling to prevent tree theft, fires during the dry season and other illegal activities.

A number of NGOs are also involved in the management of secondary forests in the country. They operate mainly in forest reserves where there is some kind of legal protection. The Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) is engaged in the management of Ruvu south forest reserve (35,500 ha) in the Coast region. This forest reserve is under heavy pressure. It is reknown for charcoal production for the readily available market in Dar es Salaam city. TFCG seeks to conserve these threatened patches of secondary forests through Joint Forest Management.

WWF is, among other things, concentrating its efforts in the management of coastal forests. The major threats to the existence of many of these forests come from expanding agriculture, over harvesting and in some cases from urbanization and mining. The total coastal forest area is declining and it is increasingly confined to forest reserves and sacred patches. Conserving forest loss is regarded by WWF as a priority through working with the Forestry and Beekeeping Division and traditional leaders.

The Sokoine University of Agriculture is managing Kitulang'alo forest reserve (500 ha) in Morogoro district for training and research purposes. Otherwise the general impression in the country is that, natural forest plots on non-reserved lands suffer from clear ownership and tenure, encroachment, lack of management, wild fires and lack of awareness and incentives for sustainable forest management.


Forests and woodlands, including the secondary forest component, support a variety of unique flora and fauna. There is no clear distinction between primary and secondary forests (including woodland), and talking about secondary forest, could also mean primary forest. In general, the term `forest' will be used. Traditionally, forests in the country were left without proper management and in fact most previous efforts were directed to harvesting for fine hardwood and non-wood forest products. Since most of the forests occur in general lands (particularly woodland), forest has at times been regarded as potential land for agriculture and livestock development. However the little work of importance that was done in the past shows that past management of miombo woodland involved early burning to protect regeneration of saplings from destructive late dry season fires. Other practices included singling of coppices and enrichment planting especially in upland rain forests.

The mangrove forests regenerate very well under natural conditions and the tidal movement of water creates a good condition for its regeneration. Factors that seem to threaten the survival of the mangroves ecosystem are uncontrolled harvesting, encroachment for farmland particularly growing of rice in areas of fresh water and salt making (Dallu, 1989).

As far as harvesting is concerned, various user groups obtain licenses for logging, charcoal production, fuel wood collection, gathering of honey and medicinal plants without valid harvesting plans. Numerous difficulties are encountered in supervision and control because of the widespread abuse of the licensing system. Strategies to improve the situation are underway.

Effective management of forests in the country started in mid 1970s when land husbandry projects HADO and HASHI were launched by the government under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Similar projects run by NGOs followed, such as LAMP Babati, HIMA Iringa etc. In early 1990 one of the TFAP projects to support the Natural Resource Buffer Zone was launched by GTZ.

Land husbandry projects aim at meeting the basic needs of local communities such as wood fuel, fodder, food and several intangible necessities e.g soil conservation etc. Land husbandry projects deal with afforestation activities, management and conservation of natural forests and woodlands, integrated production of timber, wood fuels, bee products and other non- wood forest products, better land use planning and improved agriculture to slow down the rate of deforestation.

A typical woodland management project (FRMP) was launched in 1991/92 under World Bank funding. It operated in Mwanza and Tabora regions in two phases before it was concluded in 1998/99. The main activities of the project were tree planting by individuals, groups and institutions, construction of improved stoves, field patrols and some trials on Joint Forest Management.

In 1998 the Government of Tanzania approved the revised National Forest Policy. The main objective of the Forest Policy is to create an enabling environment for the development of the forest sector. This was done by decentralizing responsibilities for forest management to local communities and district councils, and by promoting greater involvement of the private sector and civil society in sustainable forest management. This means that the revised National Forest Policy has completely changed the strategies and approaches of managing the forest estate in the country. Following are the main features of the Forest Policy in relation to the management of secondary forests:

A new Forest Act was enacted by Parliament in April 2002. The Act provides for procedures through which local communities or individuals can manage forests under the community based forest management approach. Alternatively they can share the management functions in Central and Local Government forest reserves through the establishment of Joint Forest Management agreement with the appropriate government authority.

The revised Forest Policy and the enactment of the Forest Act have laid down the new direction for development and management of forests in the country. Briefly the two documents support the concept of PFM.

PFM is a strategy to achieve sustainable forest management by promoting the management or co-management of forest and woodland resources by the communities living closest to the forest resources. It is characterized by a local community sharing power instead of just benefits, and assuming owner/user rights and management of the forest resources.

A number of projects had piloted on CBFM and JFM even before the revised Forest Policy was in place. These are mainly land husbandry projects and one woodland management project (FRMP) mentioned above which have accumulated a lot of experience to date on the concept of Participatory Forest Management (PFM) as a whole.

Currently two new projects are being implemented under the PFM approach to conserve and manage forests. They are the MEMA project (Matumizi Endelevu ya Misitu ya Asili) in Iringa region and the UTUMI woodland management project in Lindi region. In addition several NGOs and Community Based Organizations are also engaged in the management of forests in the country, including Tanzania Forest Conservation Group working in the Coast region, CARE (Tanzania) in Morogoro region and Africare, supporting forestry activities in Tabora region. On the other hand a number of projects have been completed; including the WB supported FRMP, the GTZ supported Natural Resource and Buffer Zone project in Handeni district Tanga, the FINNIDA supported Rural Integrated Support Programme (RIPS) in Lindi and Mtwara regions, and Conservation of Lowland Coastal Forests in the Coast region supported by WWF. The concept of PFM has also been tested in forest plantations in the country e.g. Shume plantations in Lushoto district, Tanga region.

One of the major lessons drawn from above is that almost all projects involved in the technical management of the forests are participatory in nature and donor funded. Key stakeholders have been involved in the planning and implementation of the projects. These are the Regional Forestry Officers of the project areas, Forestry staff under the District Councils and the local community adjacent to the forests in question. Participation of key stakeholders reduces the costs of forest resource management and ensures sustainability of the projects after donors have left.

The major concern perhaps is the issue of benefit sharing. Benefits and privileges are more important to the groups involved in management of forest resources whether, under public, government, or collaborative forest management. People increasingly recognize the importance of forests in improving human welfare, and this includes secondary forests. They have economic, social and environmental benefits. The privileges are primarily opportunities of access to forest resources under any particular management system. In all management categories, local people should be granted the privilege of collecting:

In addition, more incentives can be given to the local communities such as collection of revenue that accrue from the forest resource following the enactment of the Forest Act 2002.


Land tenure is a system of land ownership, which is normally held by private individuals, communities or the state. The 1999 Land Act and Village Act state that all land in Tanzania shall continue to be public land and remain vested in the president as trustee for and on behalf of all citizens of Tanzania. The Acts provide for the use and occupation of land through the system of right of occupancy.

The National Land Policy 1995 recognizes the customary and statutory rights of occupancy. The government granted statutory land right is for a period not exceeding 99 years, while customary rights of occupancy shall have no time limit. The period of 99 years is the maximum in granted rights while the customary rights, having no time limit, is an absolute right of ownership of land.

The state grants rights of occupancy under three categories namely (FBD, 2000b):

Powers of allocating land on general land and even reserved lands are given to the Commissioner for Lands. The Village Land Act contains the land tenure, which is extremely important in forest management as most of the forest resources are in village lands. The Village Land Act 1999 empowers the village council to manage village land as trustee management property on behalf of the villagers and other persons resident in the village. Otherwise the absence of secure land ownership causes some shortcomings such as lack of full participation of the local communities in afforestation programmes. This also affects long-term measures intended to conserve soil and minimize land degradation.

Gazetted forest land in Tanzania is about 13 million ha and are predominantly owned and managed by the Central Government through the Forestry and Beekeeping Division in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Only 600,000 ha are under the ownership and management of Local Governments. About 9 million ha of the 13 million ha are under production forestry (mostly timber harvesting). Forestry plantations cover 80,000 ha and are primarily for the production of timber.

The main problem is the low capability of the central and local government to manage these forest resources to meet the growing demand for forest products and services. Consequently the forest cover is being reduced due to forest destruction and degradation as well as the unsustainable conversion of forests to other land use.

Gazetted forest reserves are constantly threatened by encroachment, illegal harvesting and over exploitation of wood and non-wood forest products. The district authorities themselves do in a way promote this situation because they always wish to raise as much revenue as possible from the woodlands without due regard to the question of sustainable forest management. Forest policy statement number 2 tries to address this situation: "To ensure efficiency in forest management and conservation, the central government forest reserves will be managed by one or several specialized executive agencies or by the private sector. Forest reserves under local governments will remain under their management or may be managed by specialized executive agencies."

The Forest Policy proposes to privatize, or create executive agencies, or involve the communities to manage the forest reserves. However, before going for partnership of any kind, the FBD needs to have a statutory right of occupancy. That statutory right of occupancy means that, FBD needs to have a cadastral survey done to fix the boundaries and determine the exact area. Later on the forests will have to be valued to determine the total value of the forests before disposition can take place. This will help to know the sort of wealth the partner receives from FBD. Finally, the Commissioner for Lands will provide a contract of ownership and register it as a title deed. This process is required in any type of disposition that the FBD wants to effect.

The forests in public lands are non-gazetted or non-reserved forests, which cover 19 million ha. The non-gazetted forests are not under any ownership and extensively used for shifting cultivation, uncontrolled fuel wood collection, charcoal production and timber harvesting. Forests in these areas are facing serious conversion to competing land uses such as agriculture, livestock grazing, human settlements, wildlife conservation, recreational activities and industrial developments. The estimated area under private and community forestry in Tanzania is about 70,000 ha. Community forest plots are very small, less than 1 ha but there are also large plantations owned by big companies.

The Forest Policy provides that the legal framework for the promotion of private and community based ownership of forests and trees will be established. Farmers will be entitled to have their own rights of indigenous species including reserved species and not only planted exotic ones. Village forest reserves will be managed by the village governments or other entities designated by village governments for this purpose, such as NGOs, user groups, associations, religious institutions, etc. The forest reserves will be demarcated on the ground, management objectives defined, and multi-purpose forest management plans prepared covering all different uses of forests.


Forests in the country provide a wide range of goods and services including saw logs, fuel wood, poles, fodder, honey and various protective values as well as being an important habitat for wildlife. The management of these forests is however beset with a number of problems such as deforestation, and a lack of inventory data necessary for planning and management. Secondary forests are often not recognized as degraded forest and woodland in recovery stages, and neglected. Proper management of secondary forest can have ecological, social and economic benefits, and have to be considered in the context of the extent of remaining primary forests.

Deforestation has led to various environmental problems such as soil erosion and general land degradation in central Tanzania. The main reasons for deforestation are clearing for agriculture, overgrazing, wild fires, charcoal production and over exploitation of wood resources. Land degradation has been a result of among other things, insecure land tenure resulting from absence of land use planning. What is needed here is a definition of land use and security of tenure for various forest lands and provision of property rights to motivate local communities and private sector to conserve and manage forests on the general lands.

The need for proper management and conservation of secondary forests is a matter of high priority in the country as detailed in the national strategic plans for forestry development. A number of projects were implemented under the TFAP to institute sound management and conservation of secondary Forests e.g. NRBZ project (Natural Resources Management and Buffer Zone Development Project). Similar projects are planned for or currently being implemented under the National Forest Programme. e.g. DANIDA supported UTUMI woodland management project.

The revised National Forest Policy vests the responsibility of sustainable management of the forest resources under the forest sector, in collaboration with key stakeholders. The policy emphasizes participatory management and decentralization. So far the decentralized projects have shown the highest chance of sustainability, although the local and central government institutions do not presently have the capacity, financial means or implementation mechanisms to adequately support PFM at a larger scale. The major concern used to be the issue of benefit sharing because benefits and privileges are very important to the communities involved in management of forest resources. Some of these benefits from the forests have been mentioned in the preceding chapter. However, the Forest Act 2002, supports costs and benefits sharing, and this may have an impact on the success of Participatory Forest Management with forest dependent people.



1. Backéus, I., Rulangaranga, Z.K. & Skoglund, J. 1994. Vegetation changes on formerly overgrazed hill slopes in semi-arid central Tanzania. J. Veg. Sci. 5: 327-336.

2. Chidumayo, E.N. 1992. Silvicultural Characteristics and Management of Miombo Woodland. In: Piearce, G.D. & Gumbo, D.J. (eds). The ecology and management of indigenous forests in southern Africa. Proceedings of an International symposium, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Pp 124-133.

3. Chokkalingam, U. & De Jong, W. 2001 Secondary forest : a working definition and typology International Forestry Review 3:19-26

4. Dallu, A.I.M. 1989. Forest management in Tanzania. Working paper for TFAP Formulation

5. Dejene, A., Shishira, E.K., Yanda, P.Z. & Johnsen, F.H. 1997. Land Degradation in Tanzania: Perception from the Village. World Bank Technical Paper No. 370. Washington.

6. Eliapenda, S. 2000. Plant Ecological Studies Related to Restoration of a Degraded Ecosystem in Central Tanzania. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology 526.40pp. Uppsala. ISBN 91-554-4697-3.

7. FBD 2000a. National Forest Programme Formulation in Tanzania. Participatory Local Level Consultative Processes in Forestry: Best Practices and Lessons of Experiences for Designing the National Forest Programme. A seminar paper for NFP stakeholders.

8. FBD 2000b. Forest land Tenure systems in Tanzania. Working paper for NFP formulation in Tanzania.

9. Holmes, J. 1995. Natural Forest Hand Book for Tanzania. Dar es Salaam.

10. Lyaruu, H.V., S. Eliapenda and I. Backéus. 2000. Floristic, structural and seed bank diversity of a dry Afromontane forest at Mafai, Central Tanzania. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 241-263.

11. Mbegu, A.C. & Mlenge, W.C. 1984. Ten years of HADO 1973-83. Dar Es Salaam: Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism, Forestry Division.

12. MNRT 1996. Tanzania National Reconnaissance Level Land Use and Natural Resources Mapping Project (300146) - HUNTING Technical Services

13. MNRT 1997. Forest Resources Management Project, Identification of Best Practices for Forest Activities, Dar es salaam.

14. Ngaga, F. 1998. Analysis of production and trade in forest production of Tanzania. Department of Agriculture, University of Norway.

15. Rapp, A., Berry, L. & Temple, P. 1973. Studies of soil erosion and sedimentation in Tanzania. Research Monograph No. 1, BRALUP, Dar Es Salaam.

16. TFAP 1989. Tanzania Forestry Action Plan 1990/91-2007/08, Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism, Dar es Salaam.

Appendix 1: Distribution of land cover for Tanzania

Land Cover Type


Area (ha)

Cover Percent

Natural Forest
















Woodland (Unspecified Density)

Closed Woodland

Open Woodland

Woodland with Scattered Cropland

















Bushland (Unspecified Density)

Dense Bushland

Open Bushland

Bushland with Scattered Cropland

Bushland with Emergent Trees


Thicket with Emergent Trees


























Wooded Grassland

Bushed Grassland

Open Grassland

Grassland with Scattered Cropland

Wooded Grassland (Seasonally inundated)

Bushed Grassland (seasonally inundated)

Open Grassland (seasonally inundated


























Mixed Cropping

Cultivation with Tree Crops

Cultivation with Tree Crops (with Shade Trees)

Cultivation with Bushy Crops

Cultivation with Herbaceous Crops




















Bare Soil

Salt Crusts

Rock Outcrops



















Inland Water

Swamp/Marsh (Permanent)













Urban Areas (Including Airfields, etc.)













Source: MNRT (1996)

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