The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 6, Number 1, 2007
Abstract: The Tanzanian Government has recognized the importance of participation of local people in forestry through recent forestry legislation. Participatory forestry has the potential to provide benefits to local people and improve livelihoods but communities are obliged to formulate management plans for their common forest resources to realize this potential. The aim of the present study is to describe the use and relative importance of woodland tree species to rural people in semi-arid Tanzania, and to compare the findings with the use and importance of trees retained or planted on private land. This was done in order to match local needs and preferences in planning communal forests management as well as tree planting on private land. Quantitative ethnobotany was used to estimate use-values for tree species found in the area. The Kaguru people utilized all available tree resources in a diversified and complex manner. Use differed between user groups and gender, varied with land tenure systems, and fluctuated with seasons. Most informants expressed concern about dwindling tree resources and the need for changes in management schemes. Key informants listed 22 indigenous tree species as extremely valuable for construction and commercial purposes of which 10 were locally extinct. Wood scarcity and commercialisation are suggested as the main driving forces for tree planting. Villagers achieved greater access to scarce tree resources by planting exotic species rather than increased management of indigenous species. Conservation measures seem necessary to maintain valuable indigenous species in the area. The community may agree to issue regulations on intensity of grazing and firewood collection. The community could also consider the collection of revenue from commercial extraction of forest resources. It is a daunting but urgent task for planners and extension workers to integrate indigenous knowledge in a new generation of community based management plans to be developed.
Keywords: ethnobotany, participatory forestry, forest policy, low income communal forests, gender, herders, planning, conservation, user group, Eastern Africa