Kilosa unveils new sustainable charcoal harvesting plan (2)

15May 2016
Gerald Kitabu
Guardian On Sunday
Kilosa unveils new sustainable charcoal harvesting plan (2)

Last week, the ward councilors in Kilosa district Morogoro region and other forest stakeholders called on the government to give more attention to charcoal and fuel wood energy by providing clear guidance in the national energy policy.

A section of Kilosa wards councilors following up the presentation on the new district harvesting plan.

They said the guidance should show on how charcoal and fuel wood energy can sustainably be produced to meet energy demand for millions of Tanzanians and address illegal harvesting for effective management of forest resources.

In this second part, our reporter Gerald Kitabu sheds light on the proposed sustainable charcoal harvesting plan in Kilosa district.

Kilosa district is endowed with both natural forests and woodlands, covering about 40 per cent of the total land area.

According to Tanzania Forest Group (TFCG) and Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), Kilosa District Council Forest Reserves cover an area of 24,654ha (Magubike South – 15,055ha and Magubike North – 9,599ha). Mikumi National Park overlaps with about 212,500ha of the district. The area under Village Land Forest Reserves is about 124,335ha.

By forest type, the district has 35,442ha of sub-montane forest, almost entirely in protective national government and village land forest reserves, 424,172ha of woodland, and 44,112ha of commiphora dominated thicket or woodland.

Forests in the Rubeho Mountains and Ukaguru Mountains in Kilosa District are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, a globally important biodiversity hotspot. Natural forests are the source of most of Kilosa District’s major rivers.

The Harvesting Plan

TFCG, MJUMITA and other project partners have been implementing a project on Transforming Tanzania’s Charcoal Sector (TTCS) project. Through the project, the organizations have prepared a harvesting plan to sustainably manage the forests and associated natural resources.

TTCS manager Charles Leonard said the objectives of the harvesting plan is to promote ecologically sustainable harvesting of forest products including timber, fuel wood and charcoal and promote good governance including transparency, accountability and participation.

“We are also promoting equitable benefit sharing; promoting free, prior and informed consent for communities; and revenue generation for local government,” he said.

The scope of this harvesting plan focuses on harvesting timber and charcoal in un-reserved forests on village lands and local authority forest reserves of Kilosa district.

Commenting on the criteria for a forest to be harvested, Leonard said that in order for unreserved village land forests or local authority forest reserves to be eligible for harvesting, a number of requirements needs to be fulfilled. Therefore, the proposed criteria range from procedural to ecological aspects.

They include forest assessment – a current assessment of harvestable stock should be available, forest harvesting plan, a current village harvesting plan that has been approved by the respective village assembly should be available. Others include the status of forest condition and approval of the village – the village must have approved the harvesting plan and by-laws

Permit and License Procedures

Permit and license procedures for harvesting forest products in unreserved forests on village land and local authority forest reserves are guided by the National Harvesting Guidelines of 2015 and Forest Act of 2002. The key sections in the Forest Act regarding permit and license procedures include Sections 49, 50, 54 and 55.

Actual felling Operation
A harvesting cycle of 50 years for timber shall be used to determine the volume of wood that can be harvested annually.

The harvesting cycle of 50 years for timber is used in this plan because the harvested areas will be managed by Village Natural Resource Committees to protect those areas against wildfires, grazing and shifting cultivation.

This will also provide enough time and conducive environment for the un-harvested small trees to reach harvestable size. Felling will be supervised by the District Forest Manager (DFM) together with the Village Council (represented by the Village Natural Resources Committee) and trees to be felled will be marked.

Citing examples, he said reserved tree species are not used for charcoal making. Trees for charcoal production are not harvested selectively and the remains of the trees harvested for timber are used for charcoal making.

Charcoal made from timber harvesting off-cuts is only produced by those with permits to produce charcoal and who have been trained in sustainable charcoal production.

Forest potential and harvesting operations in un-reserved forests on village lands Charles Leonard explained that Kilosa district is estimated to have an area of 162,541 ha woodlands suitable for timber harvesting and 158,206 ha of woodlands and thicket suitable for charcoal harvesting on unreserved village land and municipal sub-villages.

The potential harvestable volume in a village will be divided to determine annual harvesting quotas. A rotation cycle of 50 years for timber and 90 years for charcoal shall be used to determine annual volume quotas.

“Note that the rotation for timber is shorter because potentially harvestable timber volume is calculated only from trees already above the legal minimum diameter for harvesting (LMDH) and they are assumed to already be at least 50 years old” he said.

Charcoal harvesting includes trees which are much smaller (assumed starting age of at least 10 years) and thus a longer period is required to replace the existing stock, which also includes very old trees.

Since very large trees are not required for charcoal production, a shorter rotation of 24 years could be used to capitalize on the faster growth of younger trees, but since the unreserved forests on village land are not under any management, it is more appropriate to use a longer rotation. Also, with a 90 year rotation, the effective seed to harvest rotation for charcoal is the same as for timber – 100 years.

Timber harvesting operations in un-reserved forests on village land

Timber harvesting in un-reserved forests on village land are carried out in areas designated for harvesting by villages. Trees to be harvested are identified and marked y painting and volume estimated, after which the customer is allowed to make preliminary payments.

Then the harvesting starts by felling the tree, cross-cut into logs and stumps are marked using FD Hammer by district forest manager (DFM). Logs are processed into timber or sleepers and the volume measured or taken as logs.

Forest development and governance

Compliance to relevant laws, policies and regulations
He said in order to ensure sustainable supply of forest products such as timber and charcoal the government has put in place several policies, laws, regulations and guidelines with which to comply.

Regarding timber and charcoal harvesting important provisions of the Forest Act of 2002 are provided in the harvesting plan.

The district authority identifies and set selling centres for charcoal. The charcoal selling centres proposed include: Morogoro - Mikumi road (charcoal selling centers to be at Msimba and Doma), Morogoro-Dodoma road (charcoal selling centers to be at Maguha, Berega and Kiyegeya) and more others to be identified.

Natural Regeneration
The potential for woodland to produce charcoal and timber sustainably mainly hinges on the ability of the woody species to regenerate and grow.

The plan encourages natural regeneration. The most efficient way to restore vegetative cover in Miombo is to protect it from excessive grazing, wildfires and agriculture expansion.

On the other hand, enrichment planting of trees in degraded areas would speed up the process. On the overall, in order to ensure effective regeneration in the timber and charcoal producing areas, the following need to be taken into consideration:

Ensure that the seed-producing trees are left uncut to facilitate adequate regeneration. The harvesting of charcoal and timber ensures maintenance of adequate stocks of seed-bearing trees.

Tree Planting
Currently, Kilosa district council is required to plant 2 million tree seedlings annually. At present tree seedling production for planting activities is done by various institutions in the district.

The main objective of tree planting is to supplement trees cut for timber and charcoal making from the natural forests. However, in-order for tree planting to be effective, the planted trees must be tended and protected to ensure survival.

Governance and Control

To enhance good governance and control the harvesting plan proposes that relevant staff at district and village levels deal with forest harvesting in unreserved forests on village lands and local authority forest reserves are trained on the elements of good governance.

The good governance are such as democracy, civil rights, transparency, and the rule of law, accountability, efficient public services delivery, conflict mediation, budgetary and financial management, revenue mobilization and public expenditures.

All activities are being implemented in a gender sensitive manner, ensure free, prior and inform consent (FPIC) principles, and attention is paid to the cultural, educational and resource constraints that women may have.

Royalties, fees and benefit sharing
Every harvesting permit specifies fees, royalties and other charges that must be paid in accordance with the law. The district forest officer (DFO) or district forest manager (DFM) has a duty to collect all revenue from fees, royalties and licenses charged. Royalties for timber are paid according to timber classes.

In addition, the timber, charcoal and commercial firewood harvesters are required to pay 5 per cent of the royalty paid as a contribution to tree planting. This amount is currently administered by Tanzania Forest Fund. Other fees are payable on services such as transit pass and registration.

Local government authorities such as district councils and villages have powers to formulate their own by-Laws within their area of jurisdiction.

Therefore, Kilosa district council and village councils can collect cess and fees respectively. The by-laws stipulate fees to be collected on the forest products harvested from their areas of jurisdictions. The Kilosa district council by-Law of 2015 provides for collection of cess from forest produce.

Kilosa ward councilors have hailed the harvesting plan saying it is good for environmental conservation and management of trees in the district. They said that some village councils have already formulated by-laws but they are waiting for the Minister’s approval for reinforcement.

Commenting on the plan, the district forest manager for Tanzania Forest Service (TFS) John Olomi explained that the district harvesting plan is the best plan than other previous plans which the district can rely on.

“This plan is not the first one, there were other plans in the past but this is the best and it is prepared by a team of experts drawn from the district level to university level” he said.

He said that the new plan will help fill the gaps and other shortfalls resulted from the past harvesting plans.

Apart from TFCG and MJUMITA, other project partners to this project include Tanzania Traditional Energy Development and Environment Organisation (TaTEDO), Center for Development and Environment (University of Bern, CDE) and Quantis. Transforming Tanzania’s Charcoal Sector project (phase two) is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).