An environmentalist, who is also a communication officer with the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), Bettie Luwuge, made the call when presenting a paper on the governance of the forestry sector at a forum with the media organized by the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum through Mama Misitu campaign.
She said formalizing charcoal use as an important source of cooking energy would put in place better mechanisms to save the country’s forests.
Luwuge said only two countries in Africa, Somalia and Ethiopia, have put in place a charcoal policy.
“In Tanzania we have been viewing charcoal as an informal sector despite its importance and the knowledge that 90 per cent of the country’s population relies on charcoal as the primary source of cooking energy,” she said.
According to her, this had weakened effective governance of forests, causing the government to loss greatly in revenues because formalizing the country’s forests would help to minimize revenue loss from charcoal.
“We need to venture into sustainable charcoal production,” she said.
The TFCG, in collaboration with the Tanzania Traditional Energy Development and Environment Organisation (TaTEDO), and MJUMITA, were already carrying out projects aimed at transforming the country’s charcoal sector.
Such a move could transform charcoal and timber value chain to incentivize sustainable forest management, reduce deforestation, improve rural livelihoods, increase resilience to climate change by embarking on a tree-planting campaign in Kilosa, Morogoro and Mvomero districts.
According to Luwuge, the idea aimed at establishing a pro-poor, real life and sustainable charcoal and timber value chain which will in turn create employment opportunities, community development and incentivize sustainable forest management (SFM).
In terms of revenue distribution in ten villages, local governments got Sh30m while village governments got a total of Sh303m and producers Sh199m.
“This alone saves forests, village governments get money and charcoal produced in such technology is of better quality compared to one produced in an unsustainable manner,” she pointed out She further pointed out that sustainable charcoal was an important aspect, taking into account that the demand for charcoal in Tanzania was projected to increase over the next 20 years due to rapid urbanisation and population growth.