Forestland tenure systems in Tanzania: an overview of policy changes in relation to forest management


A review of the role of forestland tenure systems in Tanzania, and how different forestland tenure approaches and reforms have influenced forest management is presented. The complexity of land reforms and processes that have taken place in Tanzania during the pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence periods is discussed. The pre-colonial period, though not much is written, was characterised by forest management through traditional institutions, low population and low forest resources exploitation. Colonial governments undermined the role of local traditions in managing the forests related to for example burial areas and springs. They also established forest reserves and in some areas cleared indigenous forests to establish tea, coffee and exotic fruit and timber plantations. Different land reforms that were geared towards sustainable development occurred after independence, forests depletion continued, however. Currently, it is observed that there coexists state, village, private and collective rights on forests without clear ownership. This is greatly linked to the ongoing deforestation and forest degradation in the country. In this situation, sustainable forestland use may be attained through establishing an enabling environment that allows effective local communities’ participation in forest management. Sustainable management, however, always presupposes effective control of harvesting and other activities to secure the carrying capacity of forests and woodlands, whether it is undertaken by central authorities or local people. Studies on forestland tenures and rights, and the impact of changes in tenures and rights on forest resources and rural livelihoods are therefore important. Such studies are required for the provision of facts for the establishment of proper future policy means that aim at reducing forest degradation and improving livelihoods in Tanzania.



Forestland, Forestland tenure systems, Forest management, Policy changes, Tanzania