Forests are predominant, distributed over approximately 55% of the total land area with woodlands being most common occupying about 93% of the forested area. The remaining 7% is composed of lowland forests, humid montane forest, mangrove forests and plantations [1].

Tanzania, like many African countries has been experiencing rapid rates of deforestation. It is estimated that Tanzania has lost at least one-third of its important ecosystems and biodiversity hosted within from forests and wooded areas over the past few decades due to agriculture expansion and urban growth. Almost 38% of Tanzania’s forest cover is being lost at the rate of about 400,000 ha annually and should this continue, the country would deplete its forest cover in the next 50-80 years. Along the coast, 18% of the mangrove forest cover has been lost over a period of 25 years (1980 – 2005) [1]. Even more alarming is an assessment of global forests by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which suggests that more than 5.86 million hectares of Tanzania’s forests were lost to deforestation and degradation between 2000 -2015. That represents approximately 10 percent of the country’s forests overall [2].


The causes of deforestation  in Tanzania include inappropriate land tenure systems, pressure to expand agricultural areas and increasing demand for forest products (Sitarz 1994). The more direct causes are agriculture, logging for timber and industry and large- scale development projects (Cooper and Palmer 1992) [3].

More specifically major direct causes of uncontrolled deforestation and degradation in the forests are: settlement and agricultural expansion, overgrazing, firewood and charcoal production, uncontrolled fires, timber extraction, development of infrastructure/industry, mining, refugees and most recently the introduction of large scale agriculture of bio-fuel production. These direct causes of uncontrolled deforestation and thus forest degradation are driven by market and policy failures, rapid (and uncontrolled) population growth and rural poverty, and the state of economy [4].

Apart from deforestation and degradation, there is growing evidence that climate change is impacting on forests and forest ecosystems and therefore livelihoods of forest dependent communities as well as national economic activities that depend on forest products and services. The problem is manifesting itself through, amongst others, unusually high temperatures, floods, droughts, hurricanes, epidemics, poor crop yields, unreliable water supplies, and increasing fire intensity. River flows and water stocks in reservoirs may decline considerably under a warmer climate while forest ecosystems may shift their ranges and lose some of their biodiversity [4].


Key policies and governance approach

The country established Department of Forestry and Non-Renewable Natural Resources (DFNR), located in Zanzibar and the Forestry and Beekeeping Division (FBD), one of the divisions in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. It is responsible for the Sectoral Policy, Planning, Manpower, Research, Training, Statistics, Licensing and Quality control of Forestry and Beekeeping agents.  The division has four sections namely:  Forestry Development, Beekeeping Development, Forest Utilisation, Research, Training and Statistics and headed by Assistant Directors [5].

Forestry and Beekeeping sector is guided by the National Forest and Beekeeping Policies adopted in March 1998, whose overall goals are to enhance the contribution of the forest and beekeeping sector to the sustainable development of Tanzania and the conservation and management of her natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The National Forest and Beekeeping Programme (NFBKP) is a ten-year framework (2001-2010) which guides implementation of the Forest and Beekeeping Policies. The Forest Act (No. 14 of 2002) and Beekeeping Act (No. 15 of 2002) provide legal framework for the management of forests and bee resources [5].

More specifically Tanzania has benefited from many years of implementing Participatory Forest Management programmes which have helped to integrate communities into forest management and thus address some of the policy and critical forest governance issues concerned with deforestation and forest degradation. is a central pillar of Tanzania’s forest law and policy and has been implemented across Tanzania since it was first piloted in Babati district in the early 1990s. Since that time, a range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders have been actively involved in promoting PFM across the country [5].

The PFM was introduced into law with the passing of the Forest Act of 2002, which provides a clear legal basis for communities, groups or individuals across mainland Tanzania to own, manage or co-manage forests under a wide range of conditions. The law recognises two different types of PFM, which: (i) enable local communities to declare – and ultimately gazette – Village, Group or Private Forest Reserves (commonly referred to as “Community Based Forest Management” – CBFM) and (ii) allow communities to sign joint forest management agreements with government and other forest owners (commonly referred to as “Joint Forest Management” or JFM) [6]. The Law also states the need of appointing a  Director of Forestry who shall be an officer in the public service [7].


Successes and remaining challenges

The causes of uncontrolled deforestation and thus land degradation are driven by several factors, including market failures, policy failure and rapid population growth and rural poverty. Under REDD+, developing countries would, on a voluntary basis, aim to reduce the rate at which their forests are being lost, and receive compensation in proportion to carbon emissions saved compared to a baseline which would represent the „without intervention‟ case or some other agreed target. The government of the United Republic of Tanzania considers the REDD+ policy a viable option that can provide opportunities for the country to meet its obligations of managing her forests and woodlands on a sustainable basis and at the same time respond to poverty reduction initiatives accordingly. In this respect the government is envisaging participating in the REDD+ policy and in its development under fund based financing arrangements[4].

Centralized forest management and PFM are the main strategies used by the Forestry and Bee-keeping Division/TFS and Department of Forestry and Non-Renewable Natural Resources to ensure the sustainable management and conservation of Tanzania‟s forests. However, SFM is not being fully realized due to among others poor governance at local as well as district, regional and national levels. At the local level, key governance issues are (i) corruption, (ii) elite capture and/or (iii) minority marginalization in terms of access to forest resources, (iv) low accountability, (v) lack of transparency, (vi) low participation, and (vii) weak law enforcement. At higher levels, the main issues are corruption, weak law enforcement, and accountability[4].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Tanzania is putting efforts in addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation through adoption of legal frameworks and implementation of participatory forest management (PFM). In Tanzania, the main sources of finance for forest management are currently: charges levied on the major forest products and services, state budget allocation to the forestry administration, and development partners‟ grants for forestry projects. However, limited financial resources are at present compelling the country to identify innovative financing mechanisms to attract new sources of investment in forest management outside these traditional channels. The adoption and implementation of REDD+, therefore, provides an exceptional opportunity for Tanzania to benefit from financial mechanism that take cognizance of the increasing importance of sustainable forest management in reducing emissions and increasing storage of CO2 to mitigate climate change and its impacts[4].

Tanzania has also developed the document “Tanzania Development Vision 2025” where it states to want a strong economy which would be able to cope with the fast growth that could have adverse trends such as the loss and degradation of environmental resources. In the latter [8]. In the plan “Vision 2050” of the Southern African Republics (group which Tanzania is part of) one of the goals is to create a conducive environment to foster regional cooperation and integration and uphold free movement of goods, labour, capital, and services. To that effect, political stability, good governance, peace, and security shall be the cornerstone of national and regional undertakings. Moreover, the document states the important to achieve a transformed agricultural sector that practices sustainable management of the environment and its natural resources as well as  Sustainable utilisation and conservation of natural resources and effective management of the environment [9].

“Enhancing the Forest Nature Reserves Network for Biodiversity Conservation in Tanzania” is a  Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) work financed by GEF and UNDP.  The project was designed to remove the barriers hindering the forest stakeholders from addressing the drivers and threats to forests and biodiversity in the Forest Nature Reserves.  The project will improve biodiversity conservation in 13 Forest Nature Reserves, the category of protected area that offers the highest level of protection under the Forest Act in Tanzania. It is noted that the project originally targeted 11 Nature Reserves. The project started in 2015 and was concluded in 2019 [10].


Goals and Ambitions

According to the 2021 NDC, Tanzania wants to [11]:

  • Enhance participatory sustainable forest and wildlife management and protection.
  • Safeguarde the ecosystem services, including through the promotion of alternative livelihood options to forest dependent communities.
  • Strengthen forestry research and development to promote resilience to climate stress.


  • Design, acquire and maintain necessary, data, infrastructure (Soft ware & Hard ware) and equipment for preparation of Reference Emission Level
  • A National Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System Established by December 2013 (this includes: Establishing and operationalizing NCMC, establishing monitoring system, future updating of the data, establishment of National REDD+ Reporting system, and establishment of a national carbon verification system)
  • Develop Integrated methods to quantify REDD and other forest benefits such as biodiversity, ecotourism, and water catchment related to payment for environmental services
  • To develop a clear and transparent financial mechanism by June 2013.
  • Participatory forest management regime is employed to ensure engagement of stakeholders especially the local communities (capacity building for local communities, and of the LGA).