Forest monitoring and assessment
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Overview - Tanzania
Tanzania will soon complete the country’s first ever comprehensive forest inventory. The National Forest Resources Monitoring and Assessment project or NAFORMA marks the biggest effort yet by a developing nation to map all of its forest resources.
One third of Tanzania is forest and it’s estimated that approximately 1% of that forest is lost annually to deforestation. Now, the government, together with the FAO, and with the financial support of government of Finland, is mapping the entire country to assess its forest resources including the size of the carbon stock stored within its forests. This information will feed into better policymaking to ensure Tanzania’s most valuable forests are either conserved or utilized in a sustainable way. This would help mitigate climate change but would also help the country in other ways such as managing its water resources and sustaining biodiversity and rural livelihoods.
The project is one of 5 pilot projects around the world overseen by the FAO and funded by the government of Finland. The pilot projects were announced in 2009, in response to calls from the United Nations for developing nations to reduce their emissions through deforestation and degradation (REDD). Tanzania’s soon to be completed inventory will help the country meet its requirements under REDD+.
In Tanzania, the 16 NAFORMA field teams have spent the past two years travelling the length and breadth of the country, gathering information from 3,400 different sites. The field data they have collected includes both biophysical data about the trees and landscape and socio-economic information gathered through interviews with local people.
The field teams are not only gathering information on the trees, they are also assessing soil and its carbon content. Soil’s contribution to climate change is not yet fully understood but forest soils act as massive carbon stores. When the plants in the soil are productive, the soil absorbs carbon. Activities such as decomposition in the soil and deforestation release carbon from the soil, significantly increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The soil samples are being analyzed at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in the Tanzanian city of Morogoro.
The wealth of information being gathered by the NAFORMA project will help inform better policy making that supports both forest conservation and environmentally friendly utilization of land including sustainable farming methods. It is hoped the project will serve as an example to other developing countries that sustainable forest management is more environmentally friendly and, in the long run, more profitable than the unsustainable alternative.
National Forest Assessment Documents
More info and details in the Final Report
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