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Socio-economic issues have close connection with forestry sector development as well as rural development. However, many important gaps remain in our understanding of the influence of socio-economic factors and the available policy options and their impact on the forest sector.


Sharma (1992) assessed the contribution of forest industry, non-industrial forestry and logging to be 13.9 % of GDP in 1989. The value of wood fuels alone amounts to more than 30 million m³ per year. Some GDP calculations do not take into account the value of forest products that are traded informally, they do neither take into account the positive influences of forests on agricultural production. Therefore, the official GDP figures used do not reflect the true economic importance of forest sector in the national economy.

The forest sector contributes 10 % of official foreign exchange earnings or 11 % of the total merchandise exports. It also provides 730 000 person-years of employment (Ministry of Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment 1994; Ngaga 1998).

The beekeeping sector has also a large potential to contribute to the national economy. It is estimated that the farmer income from honey and other forest products from miombo woodlands is as much as US$ 1,050 per ha. According to Monela et al. (2000), honey, charcoal, fuel wood, and wild fruits contribute 58% of the cash incomes of farmers in six villages surveyed. Honey alone accounts for one third of all cash income in these villages (Ibid.). On average, charcoal production provides US$ 445 in cash to each family. This was 38% of their total cash income. According to the surveyed farmers, agriculture has become less profitable, thus making them to find other means to earn a living, e.g. collecting and selling forest produce. At the same time, improvements in transportation infrastructure have made it easier for them to bring their forest products to the towns for sale.

At the national level the value of forests is estimated at US$ 750 per ha based on royalties collected, exports, and tourism earnings. At a global level, the value of the Tanzanian forests is estimated at US$ 1,500 per ha based on value of recycling and fixing of carbon dioxide. The total value of forest sector exports has increased due to the liberalisation of trade. However, exports of some individual forest products such as some types of logs, flooring and black wood have decreased whereas the value of honey exports have increased substantially.

4.2.1 Forest Sector Revenue

Forestry is a productive sector which can, at least potentially, generate its own income if properly managed and if the laws and regulations permit and support sectoral self-financing. In many countries forestry sector is actually a net contributor to the state treasury. However, to be realistic, the GoT should not expect truly significant income for the government from forestry sector. However, it is possible, and even likely, that the forest sector itself could become self-financing with even a limited potential to provide net contribution to the government income, though mainly through secondary and multiplier effects (tax income from staff and private sector activities). In addition, the sector provides substantial non-monetary and intangible social and environmental benefits that should be secured by sustainable management of the forest resources of the country.

Since the mid-1990s, the MNRT was allowed to establish and run a forestry retention scheme. In this scheme, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is allowed to retain up to 70% of the royalties collected for the purpose of financing different sectors under the Ministry including the forestry sector.

Forest sector revenue collection has been facing constant problems, producing only a fraction of its potential during the past decades. There have been several studies (see e.g. Kowero 1990 and 1991, and Silviconsult 1991) assessing the forest sector revenue collection in Tanzania. Koppers (1998) indicated that the reasons for such problems lay in the poor management of FBD and forest sector in general, and requested the FBD to develop managerial culture, which promote transparency, individual accountability and responsibility, credibility, flexibility, empowerment, and to introduce zero-tolerance for corruption and any deviation or disregard and neglect of rules and regulations. Forest staffs carrying out revenue collection have very small salaries of Tsh 30,000 per month, which does not motivate them adequately to work efficiently and with full commitment. Since 1987 revenue collection from the forest sector has been rising to levels of 1733.54 million Tsh in 1998/99.

The FBD introduced a revised Royalty Collection System (RCS) (Chatterjee and Mushi 1994) on a pilot scale in Tabora, Mwanza, Shinyanga and Singida under the Forest Resources Management Project (FRMP) in 1997. The objectives of the revised system were to increase the rate of revenue collection from forest produce using simplified licences and improved control through check-points, stock registers and transit passes. Extrapolating from the experience in the pilot regions, the forest revenue could be raised to Tsh 6–9 billion immediately, and to some Tsh 15–20 billion in short term (Mushi 1999).

All in all, the total volume of collected revenue is just a fraction (about 1%) of the potential estimated e.g. by Chatterjee and Mushi 1994.

4.2.2 Contribution of Forestry to Employment

The forestry sector has currently some 1500 professional and technical staff working under FBD, regional administration, local governments, private sector, parastatals and NGOs (Buys et al. 1996). The staff strength is a central element in the sectoral government expenditure as most of the budget allocation goes to salaries and other staff costs. Any budget cuts lead to imminent retrenchment of the staff.

4.2.3 Forestry sector and population growth

Decline per capita incomes, increased inflation and less income from export crops worsen living condition for all people. This leads to changes in the priority and activities in rural area income. They reflect a growing dependency on non-farm activities (such as charcoal making, honey hunting and pitsawing) for livelihood.

4.2.4 Implication to gender

The strategies for sustainable food security include strengthening of the resource base, by batter management of the land, in which forest land is included, water, and technology, and specifically to increase productivity and yield for the poor in a sustainable manner. The need to empower women and improve their rights to land and productive resources are specifically mentioned as an area demanding action.

4.2.5 Contribution to the household food security.

Forest foods contribute significantly to the diet of a household. Some can be consumed as seeds, fruits, leaves, roots, tubers, bushmeat and insect. They can be gathered from the forest and fallow land (Minja 1991). Food derived from the forest and trees may not be consumed in large quantities in comparison to main food staples but they add variety, improve palatability of staple food and provide essential vitamins, proteins and calorie.

4.2.6 Land Tenure

According to the existing legislation, all land, whether occupied or unoccupied, belongs to the United Republic of Tanzania and is under the control of the president. That is all land, forest land included, is held and administered for the use and common benefit of the society as a whole (FBD, 1989). State owned land, if unreserved or unutilized, is accessible to the public and may be occupied for agriculture, animal husbandry, charcoal burning or other purposes. This unallocated forest land is termed as public forest land.

4.2.7 Socio-economic aspects and deforestation

Deforestation in Tanzania have spread rapidly, affecting first of all semi-arid area where forest and also especially and bush regeneration is slow. Cattle raising lands and tobacco growing areas are also especially affected. Present estimates on deforestation by FBD are 130 000 to 500 000 ha per year (National Forest Policy, 1998). 0.3 percent per year of rainforest area was converted from the forest to other more open landuse classes. Also 0.5 percent per year of the area outside the reserved rainforest was converted from woody vegetation to cultivated land and wooded grasslands.Concerning closed forest it was assumed that half the cleared area (i.e. 5 000 ha per annum) will not revert to forest because of soil degradation and soil erosion caused by clearing.

Concerning woodland it was assumed that a fifth of the cleared area (i.e. 24 000ha per annum) will be lost as tree vegetation for a long time because of terrain conditions. Four fifth of the cleared woodlands were assumed to be remained in the fallow. No deforestation caused by logging or excessive fuel collection was noted. Only clearing for agriculture was assumed to be serious cause of deforestation. The annual deforestation rate of 29 000ha is in sharp contrast to the rate of 300 000- 400 000 ha estimated within the then Forestry Division some years a go (Kaale 1983). It was based on pure "Gap theory" calculations, treating fuel wood consumption as the sole cause of deforestation disregarding clearing for agriculture as another major cause (Ahlback 1992).

Mascarenhas (1991), in his overview of deforestation processes in Tanzania, without quantifying in concluded that, the real destruction of forests in Tanzania has taken place because of the changing perspectives of colonial administrators, settlers, national bureaucrats and people who have exploited natural resources during various period in the name of economic development. Population growth, economic demands, and heavy dependence on natural resources were cited to worsen the situation, which is a consequence of the interaction of complex forces within the social and biological systems. These forces including clearing for agriculture, overgrazing, charcoal burning, wood fuel harvesting, bush fires, and harvesting for industrial wood.

Population growth:

One of the very crucial factors in deforestation is population growth reinforced by various underline causes such as poverty and unequal access to land. Since independence in Tanzania the population of Tanzania has grown nearly threefold from slightly over 9 million to over 24 million in 1990 (EIU, 1994). About 80% of the population of Tanzania lives in rural area (NCSSD, 1994). The majority of rural people depends heavily on the forests for their survival and most of the export economy is land dependent (op.cit.).

Poverty aspect:

As poverty has increasingly become an environmental phenomenon, the poor themselves have become a major cause of ecological decline. The principle instruments in this respect are increasingly the rural poor, who have no land at all or insufficient to support themselves. They have no option but to overexploit the natural resources in order to survive. (FAO, 1989).

Policy problem:

A preliminary report of a World bank Environment Mission as indicated by Fottland (1993) states some reasons for deforestation in Tanzania: (a) Inadequate pricing policy: The price estimated on forest produce when collected from the forest is far below the price that is possible to obtain at the market. This causes the big volume of forest produce to be collected in the field in order to eke out a living. (b) Lack of capacity to implement policy and legislation: The forest managers have for considerable time suffered from lack of resource to do good job. Further, the skill and dedication among the staff. Without the implementing capacity, both legislation and policy become useless

Annexing land for agriculture and human settlement

Forestland is annexed for agriculture use due to three main reasons: (i) when there is a population pressure in the area and the current area under agriculture and settlement is not enough. (ii) When the area under agriculture use becomes unproductive due to poor agricultural practices people has to find virgin land, which is temporally fertile. (iii) The practice of shifting cultivation.

Uncontrolled burning and grazing

Uncontrolled burning is usually carried out by in forest and woodland by pastoralists as a way of inducing growth of fresh grass and eradicating tsetse flies. In addition farmers also use fire in clearing farms and honey harvesting. The fires are common in dry season and cause great losses in terms of vegetation burned. Grazing destroy forests and woodlands in various ways; by browsing young trees destroy regeneration, and compacting the soil. The loss of vegetation has resulted in exposing the topsoil and has resulted in soil erosion in various places.

Efforts in arresting deforestation and forest degradation

One traditional way of halting deforestation is legislation that prohibits undesirable forestry practices and checks the operation of destructive agents. In many cases it would mean denying the satisfaction of people primary needs. In Tanzania, where more than 90% of people use fuel wood as a source of energy, prohibitive legislation may not be a sustainable solution, an alternative way, privatisation of public forest land, can achieve sustainable utilisation of the Tanzania’s forests.



The socio-economic factors leading to a dependency on forest products in Tanzania are low per capital income and increase in population density. These socio-economic factors contribute to the 130 000ha estimated to be annually cleared for agriculture, of which 10 000ha is from closed forest and 120 000 ha from woodlands.

Technological improvements in the NTFPs processing will increase efficiency in the use of raw materials. From forests developing and adoption of the new technologies for the production, transportation, handling and storage of wood fuels, most efficient combustion devices and improved system for planning, management and organization of wood energy system will make the wood fuel considerably most cost competitive energy source.

Improve collection of revenue so as to increase contribution of forest sector to the total GDP in Tanzania. This can be done by increasing revenue collector’s capacity and opening new venues of revenue collection such as ecotourism and catchment management fees.




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