Saving Forests, Changing Lives report published

Current rates of forest degradation in Tanzania’s coastal forests are unsustainable, according to a new report launched today.

The report, published by a coalition of organisations including WWF Tanzania and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), predicts valuable timber species will be exhausted in 30 years. The study also found carbon storage has dropped by 40% in Pwani Region. Forest loss and degradation is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including:

(1) close collaboration between the Tanzanian Forestry Services, district and village authorities and greater community participation in forest management;

(2) the development of incentives and legal frameworks for sustainable charcoal and timber production, and continued research into sustainable alternatives;

(3) cross-sectoral approaches to policy development and continued participation in international efforts to combat illegal timber trade; and

(4) continued investment into educating future generations about the value of forests.  

The report is the result of a project funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery to assess the extent and spread of logging in Tanzania’s coastal forests, and to empower policy makers and local communities with resources to safe-guard forests and improve livelihoods.

Led by Tanzanian and UK scientists, the project showed a progressive and significant decline in the availability of woody resources in the coastal forests since 1991. Dr Antje Ahrends, Head of Genetics and Conservation at RBGE, explained ‘logging and charcoal burning have spread like waves from Dar es Salaam, at a speed of around 10 km per year’.

‘Charcoal production is a common livelihood-supporting activity which contributes to degradation of coastal forests’ the WWF Conservation Manager, Dr Simon Lugandu commented.

About the coastal forests 

Tanzania’s coastal forests are a hotspot for global biodiversity and home to over 700 endemic and near-endemic plant and animal species. Covering one third of the country, the forests also provide vital livelihoods for many rural communities.  Despite Tanzania’s forestry regulations, threats from charcoal production and timber logging result in the loss of an estimated 300,000 hectares of the country’s forest every year. 

  1. The project is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery: https://www.postcodelottery.co.uk/good-causes  
  2. The project is led by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in collaboration with WWF Tanzania, the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), University of East Anglia, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), TRAFFIC, and Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group (TFCG). 
  3. All media inquiries should be directed to Joan Itanisa, WWF Tanzania (jitanisa@wwftz.org) and Shauna Hay, RBGE Press Office (S.Hay@rbge.ac.uk)  
  4. More information can be found at www.tanzanianforests.com and Twitter: @TanzaniaForest  

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)