Participatory Forest Management in Tanzania

Executive summary prepared by Kisula Yeyeye

Participatory forest management (PFM) through its main forms as either community based forest management (CBFM) or joint forest management (JFM), has the potential to countercheck the ever increasing deforestation in many districts of Tanzania, including Biharamulo and Ngara, although its implementation has not been widely adopted as was previously anticipated. In efforts to strengthen national forest conservation and their sustainability, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) through Tanzania Forestry Research Institute (TAFORI) launched efforts through a research programme so as to devise enhanced forest management approaches in the country, in particular through strengthened PFM programmes. A socio-economic study involving both structured and unstructured questionnaires, strategic workshops and focused group discussions (FGD) was conducted among the local communities of Biharamulo and Ngara districts. This study was carried out to assess institutional impact on adoption and implementation of PFM programmes to Biharamulo and Ngara local authority forest reserves. This study was conducted among communities of the sixteen wards based on the following specific objectives:

  1. To assess extent of adoption and implementation of JFM programmes in selected forest reserves of Biharamulo and Ngara districts
  2. To assess awareness on JFM programmes among local community neighbouring forest reserves
  3. To investigate the extent to which JFM would provide sustainable stream of benefits to the local communities.
  4. To examine roles, rights and responsibilities of various stakeholders including the state versus local community on forest management.
  5. To appraise the rules and regulations among forestry stakeholders, and assess their influence on enhanced adoption of JFM.

Wards that were used in this study were selected based on wards ear-marked for PFM programmes, their proximity to the forest reserves, anticipated human activity and their dependence of these communities on forests and forest reserves. The Biharamulo district wards included Biharamulo mjini, Lusahunga, Bisibo,Nemba, Nyamigogo, Nyantakara and Ruziba; while the Ngara district wards included Bugarama, Kabanga, Kanazi, Kibimba, Murusagamba, Ngara mjini, Nyamiyaga,Rusumo and Ntobeye.  The selection of villages for this study was also based on the anticipated high extent of forest invasion, forest disturbances through tree cutting for charcoal making, illegal logging, mining and grazing of livestock as well as destruction of sources of rivers due to poor land use and management.

Results show that the majority of the respondents (> 86 %), including some policy makers, in the surveyed villages were less informed on approaches and efforts towards implementation of JFM in these forests, and were less informed on the processes that were involved towards implementation nor the goals, costs and benefits. Specific roles, rights, responsibilities and commitments among the local community and other stakeholders in managing these forest reserves were not clearly spelt out. District by-laws that govern management of forest reserves had not been well translated to the respective village governments, village committees, local communities and other stakeholders. The study revealed a lack of recognition of the importance of traditional institutions on enhanced forest management. For instance, there were no by-laws, including traditional by-laws that have been enacted to strengthen protection of forest reserves at village levels – a fact that could be associated with extensive forest destruction. This study revealed a limited knowledge on costs and benefit sharing among stakeholders on forest management.

However, the local communities were knowledgeable on the importance of forests in provision of wood forest products (WFP) including fuel wood, poles and timber; and as sources of non-wood forest products (NWFP), such as honey and bees’ products, herbal medicine, mushrooms, and environmental recreational goals. However, sustainability of the rich forest resources of Biharamulo and Ngara district are threatened by high rate of immigrants, illegal logging, and illegal trade on forest products and the related effects of deforestation. The majority of the local community that live adjacent to these forest reserves were immigrants from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo. Biharamulo and Ngara districts have high rates of population growth, estimated at 5.5 % out of which 3.0 % are immigrants compared to the natural demographic changes (2.5 %). Immigrants pose a threat on sustainability of forest reserves due to forest inversion for expansion of agricultural fields, massive tree felling for charcoal making and pit sawing.

These forest reserves were characterised by high tree species diversity with Afzellia quanzensis, Brachystegia spp., Julbernadia spp., Pericopsis angolensis, Pterocarpus angolensis, and P. tinctorius, being the most dominant species. However, threatened species were declining due to their high extraction rate. Enhanced forest management, for instance PFM, could strengthen conservation of biodiversity of these important forest resources and the environment.

Although implementation of JFM was still in its initial stage, the local communities were less involved in the process for example, in selection of villages to be involved in PFM programme. Involvement of local communities in forest conservation through participatory approaches would create more awareness on the important of forest conservation efforts by capturing both their experiences and indigenous knowledge on best forest management practices.

Kisula Yeyeye advised members of the surrounding community to find an alternative to clearing the forest as their source of income. Instead they planted rice.

Involvement of local communities in the various forest management practices would also make them realise the fact that the adjacent forests belong to them, and would thus empower them in decision making and implementation of the various forest management programmes. However, in order to achieve comprehensive forest management programmes through JFM for instance, capacity building of the local community and the local government is needed on the importance of these conservation efforts, and the costs and benefit sharing among stakeholders.

In order to achieve sound forest conservation programmes, the local community pinpointed the need for forest conservation education, introduction of alternative forest enterprises such as introduction of improved apiaries and beekeeping practices within the forest reserves, value addition and strengthened markets of forest products, especially non-wood forest products (NWFP) such as honey and bees’ products.

The need to empower the local community through institutional arrangements was suggested for enhanced inaction of by-laws and forest acts and laws. In order to achieve comprehensive forest conservation efforts, forest acts and laws should be presented in simplified language to be understood by stakeholders – including local community, local authority government’s technocrats, policy makers, legislatures, and other stakeholders. Although several challenges exist on adoption and subsequent implementation of PFM programmes in Biharamulo and Ngara districts, costs and benefit sharing modalities should be spelt out as clearly as possible among stakeholders. These guidelines and agreements should be respected and abided by either party whether being the local community, village governments, or the district’s local government authority.

The author, Kisula Yeyeye (middle) with fellow advocates who assisted on this report – Kisusi Rashid (left) and Hakimu Muhaji (right).

Study objectives
Overall objectives of the study

This study was conducted to assess community impact among the general public on perception and extent of adoption of PFM programmes in Biharamulo and Ngara districts for improved environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation through supporting the development of innovative PFM plans that would secure the rights, revenues and responsibilities of forest stakeholders/ users for enhanced forest management.

Project specific objectives

A study to investigate institutional impact on implementation of PFM programmes in Biharamulo and Ngara districts were conducted based on the following specific objectives:

  1. To assess the extent of adoption and implementation of PFM programmes in selected forest reserves of Biharamulo and Ngara districts.
  2. To assess awareness on PFM programmes among local community neighbouring forest reserves in Biharamulo and Ngara districts.
  3. To investigate the extent to which PFM would provide sustainable stream of benefits to the local community.
  4. To examine roles, rights and responsibilities of various stakeholders including the state versus local community on forest management.
  5. To appraise the rules and regulations among forestry stakeholders (local community, village governments, district council and policy decision makers), and assess their influence on enhanced adoption of PFM.
Underlying assumptions

The research was conducted based on the following assumptions:

  1. Local communities living adjacent to forest reserves were among the most responsible forest user groups for the continued forest degradation, and have the power to protect the forest reserves and the related forest.
  2. The local communities are less pessimistic and less aware on PFM programmes such as JFM. Upon capacity building through education, the local community’s knowledge could be enhanced and thus create more awareness for enhanced forest management and sustainability through PFM.
  3. The local community are less confident on whether they would be among important beneficiaries through JFM programmes, and assume that the district council and local government authorities would be the main However, upon education of local community and capacity empowerment of both local community and local government authority these negative attitudes could be reversed. Improved approach by the local government authorities would enhance trust of the local community and credibility among different stakeholders.
  4. Mechanisms towards adoption of PFM programmes and the selection of the respective forest reserves for implementation of PFM programmes was less participatory among the local communities, village governments, local government authorities and other
  5. Roles, rights and responsibilities in forest management among key forest stakeholders. Use of participatory approaches and involvement of local community by the District’s local government authority in planning, and the subsequent implementation of PFM programmes would facilitate more successful forest management.
  6. Costs and benefit sharing were not spelt out properly. Participatory forest assessments in addition to being led by Districts’ governance would not abide to the stipulated costs and benefit sharing. Well spelt out roles, rights and responsibilities as well as costs and benefit sharing would further strengthen forest management under JFM.

A resource assessment had not been conducted, and there were no forest management plans for the implementation of PFM. Local government authorities should involve the local communities for their recognition, the fact that they know their neighbouring forests better than District staff, and because they are the real guardians as they have enough knowledge regarding all forest invasions.

Implementation of JFM programmes to the communities’ neighbouring forest reserves would take place prior to signing of joint forest management agreements (JFMAs). Reduction of the current long duration being spent in due of processes and bureaucracies involved in approving JFMAs would facilitate enhanced forest governance. Fewer efforts were made to explore alternative opportunities that would reduce pressure of dependence/exploitation of forest resources by the local community of neighbouring forest reserves. More opportunities should be explored under JFM so as to create alternative income generating projects among the local community. The latter would reduce total dependence on forests, an effort that could be translated through reduced pressure on exploitation of forest resources by local community.

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