Abcg: Making Community Forest Enterprises Deliver for Livelihoods and Conservation in Tanzania
Tanzania has been an African pioneer in community-based forest management since the passage of the landmark 1998 National Forest Policy and 2002 Forest Act. These measures enable local communities to legally establish their own Village Land Forests Reserves (VLFRs) where local communities have broad rights over forest management and governance, including control over harvesting forest products. Over the past twenty years, at least 2.5 million hectares of village land have been established as VLFRs, enabling communities to improve forest management, better control use, and manage trade in forest products.
A critical issue in community-based forest management is the ability of rural communities to support their economic development and add value to local forest uses by developing local forest-based enterprises. During the past decade, community involvement in forest management and conservation in Tanzania has gradually shifted beyond a focus solely on local subsistence use, to a range of commercial initiatives and ventures involving community forest products.
This study carried out by Maliasili under ABCG's Land and Resource Tenure Rights working group documents emergent community forest enterprises in Tanzania and their impacts on forest conservation and the livelihoods of local communities. The study does this by providing detailed case reviews of three different models of community forest enterprise:
- Sustainable timber harvesting by communities, supported by Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative, in Lindi Region and surrounding parts of southeastern Tanzania.
- Sustainable charcoal production by communities, as facilitated jointly by the Tanzania Community Forest Conservation Network (MJUMITA ) and Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group.
- Community partnerships for the production of carbon offsets, as developed by Carbon Tanzania in Mbulu District, and now expanding into other areas in northern and western Tanzania.
These community forest enterprise examples demonstrate significant progress in Tanzania over the past five to ten years in enabling communities that have established VLFRs to capture a growing suite of economic benefits from their forests.