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Forestry and Beekeeping Division
Ministry of Natural resources and Tourism


Tanzania is endowed with a wide variety of natural resources. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are the mainstay of the country's economy employing over 80% of the adult workforce. The country has a population of 30 million people. The majority of population live as rural peasants, with a 2.8% growth rate a year. The urban population is approximately 4 million and growing at a rapid 7-8% per year and causing intense demands on the infrastructure and the economy.

The country was under one party rule for over thirty years, however during the last six years it has gone through a rapid democratisation process where several political parties have been registered and multiparty elections conducted.

Since 1986 there have been several government interventions aimed at redressing the country's economic problems. They include the Economic Recovery Programs (ERPs) and the Economic and Social Action Programmes (ESAPs). The macroeconomic reforms addressed various issues namely the exchange rate, foreign exchange allocation, trade and pricing policies, fiscal and monetary policies and interest rates. Specifically the government has liberalised external and domestic trade and decontrolled almost all the commodity prices. The government has also liberalised marketing arrangements, reformed the financial sector by allowing entry and autonomy to privately owned banks bureau de changes. All these macroeconomic changes have improved access by enterprises to essential inputs and better marketing opportunities. The country's GDP has been growing at 5% from 1995/96 mainly due to good performance in the agricultural sector. Inflation which reached a peak of 38% in 1995, dropped to 14% by April 1998.

The parastatals have been operating inefficiently, causing substantial losses to the government and the society as a whole. As a result the government has taken steps to restructure the parastatal sector through the Presidential Parastatal Reform Commission. The strategies recommended include privatisation of ailing parastatals.

The government is concentrating on infrastructure investments, policy formulation, sectoral planning, collection and dissemination of information on prices and markets, public awareness etc. This implies that the role of the government is confined to provision of an enabling environment for the expansion of the production, trade and investments by the private sector. The country, however, still faces some serious problems. For example, industrial production is seriously suffering from inadequate infrastructure and stiff competition from imports and provision of employment to the young people who are mainly unskilled is a major social challenge for the country.

The increasing population combined with slow economic growth increases, places a high demand on, among other things, forest products and services. Like other government sectors, the main objective of the forestry sector is to meet the increasing demand and at the same time secure a sustainable resource base. Strategies to achieve this have changed periodically. The most recent strategies are contained in the revised Forestry Policy that was endorsed by the government in March 1998. The following are the main features of the revised policy:

To restructure the institutional structure whereby the role of the sectoral administration will focus mainly on policy development, regulation, monitoring and facilitation. Promotion of decentralisation of forest resource management responsibilities and sharing specialist, technical, backup service training as well as information dissemination.

To efficiently manage all natural forests specifically those having particular, bio-diversity and productive values. New forest reserves will be established in areas of high bio-diversity value in consultation with other stake holders. The status of existing forest reserves with high bio-diversity values will be upgraded to nature reserves to ensure their perpetual protection. Conservation and management objectives for each forest and nature reserve will be defined and management plans prepared. Local community and other stakeholder involvement in the conservation and management will be promoted through joint management agreements between involved parties. Buffer zones around reserved areas and corridors will be established to link fragmented forests with collaboration of local people.

Commercialisation of forest plantations to make them self-supporting and sustainable. The management responsibilities of the forest plantations will be delegated to from the forest authorities to one or several executive agencies to be created for this purpose. The agencies will operate on a commercial basis.

The legal framework for the promotion of private and community based forestry including village forest reserves is currently absent. Shortage of land and unclear land tenure, particularly for women, have hampered investment in village and private lands. The new forest policy is addressing this problem the following policy statement: "Legal framework for promotion of private and community ownership of forests will be established". Farmers will be entitled to have ownership rights of indigenous species including reserved species. Village forest reserves will be managed by village governments or other entities designated by village governments e.g. NGOs. Gender specific extension advice as well as financial incentives will be provided for establishment of forest plantations in farmlands.

Other salient features of the new policy are as follows:

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) incorporated in the forest sector planning and decision making process; and

An effective donor-co-ordination system in the context of overall sector co-ordination will be established. Integration of donor supported projects into the government institutional set-up and planning cycles will be promoted.

The two main instruments of implementing the forest policy are the forest legislation and the national forestry programme. Forest legislation is currently under review to match the new policy. This exercise will be followed by updating the National Forestry Programme called the Tanzania Forestry Action Plan (TFAP).

TFAP translates the policy areas highlighted above into action. The National Forestry Programme will develop community based programmes which will involve local communities, the private sector, NGOs and individuals in joint forest management of the country's forest resources.

The private sector's role particularly in the forestry industry is crucial. This sector is expected to invest in raw material production through the establishment of its own forest plantations. Other key players are the international community, the local governments and the Forestry and Bee-keeping Division in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

Stakeholders will promote investments in forestry by cash contribution and/or capacity building, otherwise forest sector funding is through two main sources namely: local and international sources. The local sources include revenue from the sector's activities such as royalties and stumpage and other miscellaneous charges on forest goods and services. The forestry sector retains 70% of the total revenue collected. The remaining 30% is remitted to the treasury to support other government services. The retained funds support both current and developing activities.

The international financing the situation is slightly different. About 90% of the forestry development budget is from external financing sources through bilateral and multilateral co-operation agreements.


According to the National land cover and land use reconnaissance carried out in 1996 through satellite imagery, Tanzania mainland has the following areas under forest cover.

Type of Forest

Area covered (km2)

Proportion (%)

Miombo woodlands



Natural Closed Forests









Total Forested Area



This constitutes approximately 46% of the total land area. If the bushland is included (as some areas are already protected as forest reserves), the percentage will jump to 66% of the total land area. Out of this 125,170 km2 have been set aside as forest reserves including 83.8 km2 of nature forest reserve and 20,000 km2 have been protected as game reserves and national parks.

Forest resources in Tanzania face high and increasing threats of deforestation and degradation. One major practical problem associated with this is our failure to gauge and monitor these threats. However, some unverified estimates indicate that between 130,000-400,000 ha. are lost annually through deforestation.

At the same time, efforts to remedy this situation are low due to poor economy and uncoordinated efforts of land users mainly agriculture, forestry, livestock and mining. It is also important to note that due to the ongoing civil service reform programmes, the capacity of the government to sustainably manage the forest resources is dwindling, especially in the absence of immediate measures to counteract the manpower vacuum created.


The contribution of the forest sector to the national economy is estimated at 3-4%. However, this figure includes only tangible and marketed products like sawnwood and carvings and excludes wood consumed as fuelwood and charcoal, the role of forests as source of water for electricity generation, agriculture and fisheries. It also excludes the role of forests in the provision of pasture land, wildlife habitat hence tourism, medicinal values, contribution to the carbon pool and general environmental values.

From a social point of view, forestry provides direct employment to a considerable number of people in both primary and secondary and artisan wood industries notably sawmills, carpentry and joinery and weaving.


Estimates indicate that wood contributes over 90% to the national energy budget. The government has, in principle, two principal policy objectives for bio-energy. These are:

to improve the welfare of consumers by reducing the financial or labour costs of meeting their energy needs; and

to reduce the destructive impacts of wood energy demand on forests and other land use systems.

To meet these objectives two main strategies have been pursued: (1) the increase of local wood supplies by various forms of afforestation and (2) the reduction of wood energy needs through greater efficiencies of wood conversion and utilisation. A third alternative strategy - the substitution of wood fuels by alternative energy sources - has not been pursued vigorously because of prohibitive costs both for consumers and for the government return of capital for establishing the necessary infrastructure. At the same time, wood energy planning is seriously hampered by poor information about levels of consumption and sustainable supply and even the nature of wood energy demand - supply system itself, leading to inappropriate policy and project responses.


There are two sources of wood in the country: natural forests and industrial plantations. Most of the wood is cut from natural forests and is in pole form for construction, charcoal production and fuelwood and the rest being cut for sawnwood production through pit sawing.

Another large amount of wood is removed from these forests is wasted by burning through shifting cultivation resulting in considerable loss of forest land to other land uses. The rest is recovered through natural regeneration, but ends up in most cases as degraded forest land.

The industrial plantations, dominated by softwoods especially pines and eucalyptus are the main source of roundwood in the form of sawlogs, pulpwood and transmission poles. Cypress species also occupied a reasonable proportion of the industrial plantations but, their share has been considerably reduced by the emergence of aphids (cupressii cinara). Approximately 10% of industrial plantation area is occupied by hardwoods including eucalyptus, grevillea, cedrella, teak, iroko and wattle species. While most plantation wood end up in wood industries, a majority of people living adjacent to these forests are increasingly benefiting from them as a source of fuelwood and semi-processed construction material.

Wood production from the industrial plantations is approximately 25-30m3/ha. Basing on these figures and plantation area of 70,000 ha of softwoods, roundwood production was estimated at 1,500,000m3/year during mid-eighties. However, due to a number of reasons including outdated management plans, irregular replanting of clear-felled areas and low industrial capacity, both the allowable cut and actual removals are very low. Also, due to poor survival and lack of pruning and thinning, stand conditions are poor and uneven making the estimation of allowable cut difficult.

Wood industry and processing is dominated by small scale sawmills with an annual intake of approximately 10-15,000m3/annum. Again, due to poor co-ordination, their turnover is difficult to estimate. There are less than 10 medium-sized sawmills, 1particle board,1hardboard,1match factory, 2 paper-mills, a number of impregnation plants. Most of these plants and mills are or were state owned and partly due to their poor performance they are being privatised. Due to mismanagement, these installations are heavily under-utilised.

As is the case with wood processing, trade in wood and wood products is in the private sector. There was an attempt by the state to control trade in wood and wood products and a parastatal organisation by the name of TANTIMBER was formed for that purpose. like the Tanzania Wood Industry Corporation (TWICO) which was operating the nationalised wood industries, failed due to poor management and competition from the private sector. Most of the wood and wood products are consumed locally, though recent trends indicate that export of sawnwood is increasing. For example, the largest operating sawmill in the country (Sao Hill Timber Ltd. ) is already exporting almost 90% of its production of sawnwood and more orders are being placed. Poor quality is the only threat to export industry, which cannot compete with industrial nations.


As other countries with abundant forest resources, forest ecosystems offer excellent natural recreation possibilities. However, while eco-tourism was not regarded as source of forest income, other sectors have been and continue to benefit from eco-tourism partly because the management of most areas with high tourism potential is vested under the National parks Authority. Other areas like mangroves and other aquatic ecosystems are increasingly attracting eco-tourists.


The most important wood product in Tanzania is fuelwood (which may also be processed into charcoal). consumption is estimated at 26 million cubic metres per annum. The future demand levels will depend on population growth, urbanisation, income, use, availability of alternative sources of energy and improvement of utilisation efficiency. Despite the lack of reliable data, it is estimated that the fuelwood demand could be in the range of 52 million cubic metres by 2008.

The most important industrial wood product is sawnwood which is mainly used in construction, joinery and furniture making and packaging. The end sectors as well as the use per capita and sawnwood are increasing and therefore the sawnwood demand is expected to double by the year 2008. Almost half of the total demand is presently met by pit-sawers but, their role is gradually being replaced by industrial production.












Pulp wood


















Wood based panels




Paper and boards








*Source: TFAP 1989/90-2007/08

The demand for wood panels (plywood, particle and fibre-boards) is growing faster than that for sawnwood, but the volumes will be relatively limited. The most dynamic products are paper and paperboards whose demand has risen with economic growth in the country. Their demand is expected to rise by 75,000 tonnes in 2008.

Due to uncertainties in forest land changes as a result of degradation and deforestation, it is difficult to predict the future scenarios of the forest estate in the country. It suffices to point out that if the reforestation of clear-felled plantations is not improved and uncontrolled harvesting of natural forests is left to continue, the country's wood and water supply will be greatly hampered.


Tanzania has had large macro-economic, social and political changes since the mid-eighties. These changes have affected the forestry sector whose response includes the revision of its forest policy and identification of new strategies for its implementation. Among the new strategies proposed, is the active participation of the private sector in forest development and management. Simultaneously, despite the abundance of forestry resources, the direct contribution of the sector to the country's economy is apparently low. This situation is partly attributed to the lack of reliable statistics on forest areas, production and trade. The country's forest resources are threatened by deforestation and degradation caused by annual fires, shifting cultivation, overgrazing and uncontrolled tree felling for timber, fuelwood and charcoal production without corresponding afforestation and reforestation efforts.


Forestry and Beekeeeping Division: Tanzania Forestry Action Plan 1989/90-2007/08;

Forestry Beekeeping Division (1998): National Forestry Policy;

Forestry and Beekeeeping Division (1996) Land use and Land cover maps;

Ministry of Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment (1994): National Environment Action Plan.

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