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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. 

REDD+ initiative

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.  

Soil carbon

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

Final Reports


Methodology and Approach

FAO Forestry Paper 168 - Soil carbon monitoring using surveys and modelling in the United Republic of Tanzania 


 FAO helps Tanzania monitor carbon stocks 16 May 2012 FAO is helping scientists and policymakers in Tanzania evaluate how much carbon is stored in forests and forests soils, which will enable them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. mplemented by the Tanzanian government and FAO and funded by Tanzania and Finland, the $5.6 million project involves 16 field teams which have been working for two years, collecting field data from 3,400 sites in Tanzania. Soil sampling is being carried on 25 percent of these sites. [more]
14 July 2009 The NAFORMA launching ‘Data needs and Inventory design workshop’ took place in Dar Es Salaam, from 30th June till 2nd July 2009. The workshop aimed at gathering all the necessary data and information concerning inventory data and user needs for National Forest Assessment (NFA) in Tanzania. The workshop was attended by some 70 participants including (local stakeholders from ministries, NGOs, international and national experts) and finished with concrete recommendations of different working groups, to be used by the local FAO consultant team, deadline end of July 2009. The most important issues were information needs, sampling design and stratification, the possible link with REDD, and land use/ vegetation classification options. Further project implementation was discussed, as well as linkage between different ongoing RS initiatives FRA RSS, GEO, the Norwegian lidar project, UN-REDD and the NAFORMA, to set up a road map what’s to be done in the upcoming months and to identify the actions and actors in the following phases of the project. The UN REDD joint mission will revise the JNP in the end of July. [more]


last updated:  Thursday, August 6, 2015