Liwale communities expecting windfall earnings from forest reserves 

01Dec 2021
Beatrice Philemon
The Guardian
Liwale communities expecting windfall earnings from forest reserves 

COMMUNITIES in Liwale district of Lindi region will be soon begin to engage in Community Based Forest Management that will enable them earn cash to invest in development projects.

Liwale District Commissioner, Judith Nguri speaking to journalists who visited the area last week to learn more about village forest land reserves. She is accompanied by Liwale forest officer, Lillian Kato. Photo: Beatrice Philemon.

Conserving Forests through Sustainable Forest based Enterprises Support in Tanzania (CoForEST) Project Officer, Peter Ibrahim said the three year which started in 2019, wants to empower communities to benefit from their natural forests.

Ibrahim said, so far a total of 33 indigenous tree species suitable for sustainable timber harvesting and more than 20 species suitable for charcoal production have been identified at Ndungutu and Nampengele village land forest reserves. Under the project, the villages are expecting to earn a total of 444m/- per annum.

“So far we have marketing officer who will link them to markets as well as train them how to find other markets so that they earn maximum benefits from their forest resources,” he said, adding that so far the villages have carried out land use plans with a total of 6,839.8 hectares earmarked for sustainable charcoal and timber harvesting.

Ibrahim further stated that during the implementation, Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and Tanzania Community Forest Conservation Network (MJUMITA) will assist the communities get lucrative markets for their commodities. “All this has been possible through CoForEST project that is being implemented in seven districts with the funding from Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC),” the Project Officer added.

Commenting on the project’s benefits, Nambinda Village Natural Resource Committee (VNRC)’s Secretary, Said Barabara said under the project, villagers were trained on forest management, financial management, how to develop bylaws for forest conservation, how to use global positioning system technology and how to conserve biodiversity within their village land forest reserve.

Barabara said through the knowledge and skills gained from TFCG and MJUMITA, they are now able to develop sustainable harvesting plans for forest products. “Right now we have started to install sign boards inside the forest reserve for sustainable charcoal and timber harvesting,” he said noting that signs have also been placed showing boundaries between the village and forest reserve.

He said to start with, money obtained from selling forestry products will be used to build a dispensary for Nambinda village, village government office and classrooms. “Our village’s major challenge is lack of a health facility which has forced people to walk 8.5 kms to get medical treatment at Mlembwe village,” Barabara noted saying those who can afford a ‘Bodaboda’ taxi ride pay between 10,000/- and 30,000/- for the trip.

He called on the government to review Government Notice 417 (GN) to help them benefit from forests that they are conserving through Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) by reducing tax imposed on a bag of charcoal which currently stands at 12,500/-instead of 6,750/- per 100kgs bag. “We need at least the government to impose a 6-000/- tax on a bag of charcoal so that the village and charcoal producers can also benefit,” he argued.

In remarks to journalists who visited the areas, Liwale District Commissioner, Judith Nguri paid tribute to TFCG and MJUMITA for introducing the project in her district saying the majority of Liwale residents have no knowledge of the importance of forest conservation.

“Through CoForEST project, the district will ensure that knowledge will be disseminated widely to communities so that they understand the importance of forest conservation and the benefit of land use planning,” Nguri said.

She conceded that the project has already triggered an influx of villagers seeking support from, district authorities to conduct land use planning to prevent land dispute as well as conserve the environment.