About those forests in Tanzania …

The mere mention of Tanzania in a recent article about Mabira Forest, titled ‘Mabira – The silent assault continue’ predictably brought the cyber sewer rats out in the open again, letting fly abuse and worse over how I am an enemy of Tanzania. I did say and stand by it, that illegal logging is as much out of control in Tanzania as is poaching, like it or not. Well, here is an article in Tanzania’s The Citizen newspaper, in which the facts of the decline of the country’s forests is described. I rest my case!

Everyone’s hacking away so the future of TZ’s national forests is bleak
Friday, 22 March 2013 21:58
ehforestpg05230313.jpg The future of the leafy climes of the Lake Manyara National Park (seen here) is uncertain, and experts warn Tanzania is headed for disaster if it doesn’t take radical action. PHOTO | EMMANUEL HERMAN

By Mkinga Mkinga – The Citizen
The Citizen Reporter
Dar es Salaam. Experts are worried that Tanzania is headed for a disastrous future if radical action is not taken to stop massive abuse of its forest cover.

Former director of Forestry and Beekeeping, Dr Felician Kilahama, said deforestation in Tanzania was currently higher than any other time even as Tanzania marked World Wood Day on Thursday to raise awareness on the importance of the resource.

A World Bank 2011 report on farmland shows that between 1990 and 2010 Mainland Tanzania lost 8 million hectares or 19 per cent of its forest cover. This means that an average of 400,000 hectares of forest cover is lost every year.

The forests are being destroyed and degraded primarily as a source of energy for majority of Tanzanians, especially those living in rural areas. Wood, in the form of charcoal and firewood, is the primary source of household energy for more than 97 per cent of Tanzanian households.

Dr Kilahama warned that things would get even worse for the coming generation if forest protection laws are not robustly enforced.

“Deforestation already has caused us a lot of suffering… what will the coming generation rely on? The problem here is that most of our forests are easily accessed and abused,” he noted.

The government in July 2011 launched the Tanzania Forestry Services (TFS), replacing the Forest and Beekeeping Division in the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, an independent agency for protection of the resource.

“We should not expect any miracles if there is no political will to manage our ecology and conservation,” Dr Kilahama told The Citizen on Saturday recently.

He is on record as saying, during the launch of TFS, that some politicians – especially MPs – were defending forest invaders for political gain, adding that protection of forests needed strong support from politicians and the government.

He noted that there was a lack of government seriousness in protecting its own forests. He said, for example, that heavy trucks were ferrying illegally-obtained logs everyday even past weighbridges and road checks.

The director of the Tanzania Specialist Organisation on Community Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation (Tasonabi), Mr Bariki Kaale, said in a statement recently that wood plays a crucial role in the development of human civilization and environment.