Forest_and_Forestry_in_Tanzania_Changes - Journal of the...

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Journal of the Geographical Association of Tanzania, Vol. 36 No. 2: 45–58 Forest and Forestry in Tanzania: Changes and Continuities in Policies and Practices From Colonial Times to the Present Edward Mgaya * Abstract The forest sector has a very important role to play in Tanzania’s economy. Although, in absolute terms, their contribution to total gross domestic product (GDP) is relatively low, the country’s forests contain such a high level of resources that make Tanzania one of the richest and most bio- diverse countries. Due to such importance, forestry has variably featured in Tanzanian policies from colonial time to the present. This paper, therefore, examines such policies relating to forests and forestry in Tanzania from the colonial to recent times. It argues that, although there has been a change in the approach from a preservationist approach in the colonial and postcolonial period towards a managerial/win-win approach in the current forest conservation, there is a resurgence of the preservationist tendency in the focus on managing forest solely to increase carbon stocks. Drawing evidences from various existing policy documents and other literature, this paper concludes that forestry policies have been, and continue to reveal a notable protectionist and reservationist propensity while also expecting revenues from them through various forest products. These policies, to a greater extent, have throughout resulted into conflicts between both colonial and post-colonial states and local population who demands free access to the forest resources for their survival. Keywords: forest, management, conservation policy, environment . 1. Introduction As significant features of socio-environmental landscape, forests in Tanzania have been important to the country’s history. Hurst (2003), FAO (2000), and Rodgers et al. (1985) point out that, while historical data on forest cover is notoriously unreliable, periodic estimates have put forest cover at different places (34% to 48%) of mainland Tanzania land area in the post-colonial period. Of this forested land, approximately 90% is miombo woodland. The * Department of History, Political Science and Development Studies, Mkwawa University College of Education: [email protected] ; [email protected]
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Edward Mgaya 46 remaining portion consists of coastal and delta mangroves, and the closed forests of the highlands in Arusha region, the Eastern Arc Mountain chain and the Southern Plateau. Approximately 37% of the forested land is classed as forest reserve, controlled and managed by the state Forestry and Beekeeping Division (Hurst, 2003: 358-59). The remaining forests, found outside the reserve network, lie on village and general land. While most of these unreserved forests are poorly managed, traditional and customary management practices have supported the conservation and maintenance of forest cover for sacred, religious or social purposes in numerous localities across the country (Blomley & Iddi, 2009: 7).
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