From conflict to co-operation
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CTA. 2002. From conflict to co-operation. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57161
The manager of Meru Forest Plantation in northern Tanzania describes how the plantation has made agreements with local communities to share responsibilities and benefits. As a result conflicts over livestock grazing have been minimised, corruption over land distribution has been reduced and no forest fires have taken place for three years.
From conflict to co-operation Cue: Meru Forest Plantation, which lies close to Arusha in northern Tanzania, was designated as a government forest back in 1920. Since that time the forest managers have experienced considerable conflict with local people. The area is home to farmers and to pastoralists with large numbers of cattle, and many have been angry that they cannot graze and farm the land occupied by the government plantation. A few years ago, the government of Tanzania decided to embark on a new approach to try to change the situation from conflict to co-operation. Government plantations and surrounding villages were encouraged to write an agreement, known as a memorandum of understanding, by which communities agreed to respect and protect the forests, in return for some concessions from the forest authorities. Edgar Masunga, manager of the Meru Forest Plantation explained to Lazarus Laiser how the system began in his area. IN: ?We started it in 1998/99 ? OUT: ?which are still persisting.? DUR?N 4?32? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Edgar Masunga, on the need for communities to be more involved in the management of forests in Tanzania Transcript Masunga We started it in 1998/99 by having a pilot project with three villages in Oldonyosambu. We had memorandum of understanding with those villages. They were supposed to curb all illegal activities, like tree-felling, illegal tree-felling in the forest. Also they were supposed to extinguish any fire which could be started either accidentally, or by arson, or any type of fire in the forest. And our task was to give them free access to the forest, to take fuelwood for domestic purpose, and also in the clear felled areas, we agreed that we were going to allocate them some plots to plant some maize, potatoes and beans. And again we agreed that we were going to give them some amount of money, and now they are getting about 50,000 shillings per village per month. Laiser How many villages are involved now, up to the moment? Masunga Up to now we have fourteen villages which we have signed a memorandum of understanding with them. But we are facing some problems. Most of the people around they keep cattle. They do not have the grazing areas, so they take a lot of cattle to our forest. Formerly, when we had no agreement with the villages, whenever we were trying to destock the animals from our forest, we were getting a very great resistance from them. But after signing this memorandum of understanding, the conflicts have been minimised, so we think that they are helping us in managing this forest sustainably. For the past three years, we have never seen any serious fire in the forest, and even the distribution of the plots has been so smooth. We just give the number of plots to the village government, and they just do the distribution themselves, in the villages, and this has reduced the problem of corruption. Laiser Now, what training are you giving to the local communities, to encourage them in sustainable forestry? Masunga On the question of education, we don?t provide any formal education to the villages, because it will be very expensive. But we are giving them informal education, just to create awareness. And we are doing seminars, workshops with the environmental committees, which are representing the village governments. So the environmental committees act as a bridge, a link, between a village and the management team. And also we took some of the members of the environmental committees to other areas, to see how other people are doing in management of their forest there. Laiser What suggestion do you have to the government about forestry management? Masunga You cannot manage forests as an island. The destruction of most of the forests is done unintentionally. You see most of the people around, their level of education is very low. So the government has to stress in education, environmental education, from the primary level up to the college level. And also you cannot solve this problem in isolation. Most of the destruction is done because people are poor. So the forest is just nearby to their villages, and they consider to have easy money. So the government has to plan on how to improve the income of its people, and I think it is high time to give some part of the area as a pilot project to the local people. If they can be given three hundred hectares, and teach them how to manage it sustainably. And after some time, if they are doing it in a proper way, then you give them more, you give them more share. Because if they know that this forest is their property it means they will take more care, and there will be no destruction, and it will be easy for us to manage it and reduce the conflicts which are still persisting. End of track.