Targetting the Tanzanian forest energy crunch

Tanzania is one of five pilot countries under an FAO Finnish funded programme for support to sustainable forest management in a changing climate. Soren Dalsgaard, Chief Technical Advisor of NAFORMA, who has been with the project since its launch, explained how Tanzanian forests are facing what he refers to as an energy crunch.

“Wood and charcoal are by far the dominant sources of household energy in Tanzania and are used to meet the daily cooking needs of more than 90% of the population. Currently there are no affordable alternatives available to the majority of the population which is growing rapidly.”

Tanzania’s current growth rate of one million people more every year is increasing pressure on the remaining forests. As a result, forest resources are being degraded, and degraded forests are less productive.

Dalsgaard pointed out how “timely, relevant and reliable information on resources is essential for informed decision making and for the development and implementation of policies affecting forests, vital in the promotion of sustainable forest management. NAFORMA was initiated as the platform to provide this information’’.

The result was a blueprint for the country’s first-ever comprehensive national forest inventory, combining biophysical and socio-economic data. This allows for broad analysis and understanding of the huge importance of the forests for rural livelihoods.

The backbone of NAFORMA is the field inventory which consists of around 3,400 sample sites with 32,000 plots across the country, of which 25% are permanent. From these plots NAFORMA captures data relating  tree-species, height, diameter and the like as well as collecting soil samples together with socio-economic data about how people living near forests use the forests. The socioeconomic data was collected by interviewing 3,500 households and 1,500 key informants.

The field work and data collection was done during the implementation phase of NAFORMA which took slightly more than 2 years.

According to Dalsgaard the environmental challenges Tanzania is facing through the energy crunch cannot be solved by sustainable forest management alone. There is an urgent need for long term integrated solutions to address the problems, taking into account many diverse sectors such as land ownership, energy, infrastructure, population growth, poverty, alternative income sources, agriculture, land planning, etc. Sustainable forest management is only one component.

last updated:  Friday, September 13, 2013