We have set-up the Forestry Development Trust – an independent institution working with the public and private sectors to transform the Tanzanian forestry sector by increasing the supply of higher-value wood products and energy from sustainable sources while promoting smallholders’ profitable participation in the sector.
Challenges AND OPPORTUNITIES
Tanzania's forestry sector faces numerous challenges and these are becoming ever more critical. Private forestry is unable to keep pace with demand for timber and fuel-wood, leading to a supply deficit of 22 million m3 and the mining of natural forests – deforestation is running at 400,000 ha per year. Weak regulation heightens the problem, with unfair competition from the unsustainable exploitation of natural forests constraining the development of commercial forestry opportunities and a sustainable charcoal sub-sector. A rising population, economic growth, industrialisation and increased agricultural expansion into forested areas are contributing to make these issues worse.
However, this also means there is exciting potential to transform the forestry sector – promoting its sustainable growth, ensuring large and small-scale growers can exploit compelling opportunities in commercial timber and energy markets, and creating knock-on environmental, social and economic benefits.
The sector has been held back by a number of constraints, including:
- Low genetic diversity
- Poor quality planting material
- Poor woodlot management practices
- Lack of silvicultural knowledge
- Under-resourced public institutions
- Lack of recognition of the role of small growers in government policy
- Dysfunctional markets for value addition
Addressing these and other constraints in the value chain, supportive markets and policy environment could transform the sector. By developing the right institutions, skills and incentives Tanzania could significantly increase the planting of newly introduced or adapted local species of trees. The country could develop a critical mass of growers, providing the necessary demand for commercially-oriented and sustainable research, training and extension services, while also providing the necessary supply for industrial processing facilities and functioning value addition markets. For example, Tanzania could become the major supplier of paper and paper-products across the region. Such success within the commercial forestry sector would relieve the pressure on natural forests, reducing deforestation. It would also significantly increase rural incomes.
We have partnered with the UK’s Department for International Development to create an independent institution - the Forestry Development Trust (FDT) - to work with the public and private sectors to drive a long-term programme ultimately aimed at transforming the sector. FDT will seek to:
- Increase smallholder planting and employment in sustainable private forestry
- Raise net incomes for the sector’s smallholders
- Increase the supply of higher-value wood products and energy from sustainable sources
- Ensure quality services and industry functions are provided sustainably
FDT has national scope but is initially focusing efforts on the Southern Highlands, where more than 60,000 people are engaged in tree-growing. From its base in Iringa, FDT is initially working in three overarching areas:
Low genetic diversity, poor quality planting material and the lack of a national tree improvement programme combine to limit the productivity of planting and leave plantations particularly vulnerable to pests and disease. FDT is working with stakeholders to establish a commercially sustainable long-term national research programme, ultimately funded through improved seed sales and contributions from government and the private sector.
Growers are not maximising productivity due to poor farming practices caused by a lack of silvicultural knowledge. Their ability to maximise their investment is further hit by a lack of timely, reliable market information. FDT is piloting a number of knowledge dissemination projects to understand what works best for local growers. It is also developing a ‘Community Agent’ model of commercially sustainable service providers.
Public institutions making key decisions about the sector are under-resourced and lack evidence. FDT is conducting research to show the realities of the sector and inform better decision-making by public and private actors. It is also working to ensure small private growers have a voice and are recognised in government policy.
Other sector development programmes
Regional Forestry Sectors
We have worked in East African forestry for more than 15 years – transferring technology and establishing independent commercial nurseries in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. We are now ramping up our activity by establishing programmes to transform forestry sectors across the region.
Tanzanian Cotton Sector
We are working with local institutions to restructure Tanzania's cotton sector and build supportive markets to ensure more than 400,000 farmers can access the quality inputs and training they need to improve agronomy, increase yields and boost incomes.
Tanzanian Textiles Sector
We have established the Textile Development Unit in Tanzania’s Ministry of Industry and Trade. The Unit is tasked with developing the resources and skills needed to create the right environment for increased foreign and domestic investment into the sector.
Rwandan Tea Sector
We have expanded our partnership with the Wood Foundation Africa in tea sector development from Tanzania to Rwanda. The Imbarutso Project is working with government, factories and farmers to bolster the sector’s competitiveness and ensure that smallholders benefit from its growth.