Conserving 250,000 Acres of Tanzanian Rainforest

by African Rainforest Conservancy (ARC)

With your help we...
    •    Planted 1.7 million trees
    •    Established 5 village forest reserves covering 7,645 ha
    •    Trained 1,246 women and men on conservation agriculture
    •    Invested US$4.2 million in forest conservation projects
    •    Conserved 290,000 ha of forest   
    •    Employed 92 staff on conservation projects
    •    Trained 110 teachers to integrate environmental education

In addition, last week in Paris, on the edges of the climate talks, I’m very proud to report, the African Rainforest Conservancy's (ARC's) field partner won a prestigious United Nations Equator Award:

The Community Forestry Network of Tanzania, better known by its Swahili acronym MJUMITA, won the Equator Prize 2015 in the category of Forests! The Equator Prize is awarded each year by the UNDP to 20 outstanding local and indigenous community initiatives that are advancing innovative solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities.  MJUMITA’s nomination was selected from amongst 1,461 nominations from 126 countries. Providing networking and advocacy for communities involved in participatory forest management, the network has grown to 15,000 members in 500 user groups in 23 districts and 450 villages across Tanzania!
Thank you so much for believing in our mission to conserve and restore African Rainforests - among the oldest and most biodiverse in the world.
We can’t do this work with you, so please consider giving monthly!


Farmers attending FSC and REDD+ standards training
Farmers attending FSC and REDD+ standards training

Recent achievements include:

  • The establishment of 26,862 ha of village land forest reserves in Kilosa District (in addition to the 111,765 ha established through the REDD project);
  • The development of a ‘forest manifesto’ describing community priorities for candidates standing for election during the recent national and local elections. The manifesto was presented to all of the major parties and to prospective MPs and councillors in the areas where  MJUMITA is active;
  • The development of a film about forest crimes and how communities are successfully tackling them;
  • The development of the first district harvesting plan to be based on sound ecological data and to include issues such as free, prior and informed consent as well as documenting community rights to make decisions about harvesting on village land.

Recent media coverage:

Small scale farmers met with journalists in Kilosa
Small scale farmers met with journalists in Kilosa


Overall Objective Indicator 1:  85,000 residents of Turiani division, Mvomero district represented in village based natural resource institutions by the end of Year 3.
Communities in 34 villages with an approximate population of 106,595 have democratically and transparently elected Village Natural Resources Committees (VNRCs) (24 from Joint Forest Management (JFM) villages and 10 from Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) villages) to represent them in village based natural resource management institutions. During this reporting two VNRCs (Kanga and Difinga) were dissolved due to poor performances and new committees have been elected whilst in the case of Mziha Village the Government has split Mziha into three villages (Mziha, Njeula and Kibatula). Each of the newly formed villages will need to form new VNRCs.

Overall Objective Indicator 2:  3,000 poor households in Turiani division, Mvomero District with higher wealth ranking by the end of Year 5.
Progress towards this objective is expected to result from:
3,549 people (2131 women, 1418 men) in 21 villages participating in village savings and loan associations (VSLAs);
200 farmers (97 women 103 men) from 7 villages who are actively engaging in conservation agriculture farmer field schools;
123 women and men participating in 6 beekeeping groups;  
and 240 women and men in 7 villages who are engaging in Allanblackia nut trading.

For the farmers field schools the wealth ranking data indicates that there were 96 lower wealth ranking (LWR), 83 middle wealth ranking (MWR) and 21 higher wealth ranking (HWR) farmers involved.

Overall Objective Indicator 3:  7,000 households derive an increased share of their total income from sustainable use and management of natural resources.
75 households derive an increased share of their total income from beekeeping as a result of the project, as follows:
20 households  from Kanga Village who are members of the KAEKO Group  earned 200,000TZS  (USD $94) from the sale of 20 lts of honey;
14 households  from Kanga Village who are members of the Tumaini Jema Group  earned 190,000TZS (USD $89) from the sale of 19 lts of honey;
22 households  from Digoma Village who are members of the Vijana Group  earned 310,000TZS (USD $146) from the sale of 31 lts of honey;
18 households  from Digoma Village who are members of the Wazee Wafuga Nyuki Group  earned 100,000TZS (USD $47) from the sale of 10 lts of honey;
1 individual beekeeper (1 household) from Digoma earned 330,000TZS (USD $155) from sales of 33 lts of honey.

Community Based Forest Management (CBFM)
4,503 households in 6 villages (Difinga, Mziha, Bwage, Msolokelo, Masimba and Makuyu) are expected to benefit from sustainable use and management of natural resources on village land as a result of the establishment of village forest reserves although no harvesting has started yet. These communities have however continued to combat various illegal activities in their forests so as to ensure that their forests are  managed sustainably.  

Makuyu village have conducted about 20 patrols in their Village Land Forest Reserves (VLFRs) where they encountered 14 cases of illegal activities (grazing cattle in the forest - 10 cases, illegal timber- 1 case, and charcoal harvesting - 3 cases) where the culprits were fined and a total of TZS 1,101,700  (USD $520) was collected. The village plans to use some of the money for purchasing bricks and cement for the construction of a toilet for their dispensary.

In Msolokelo village 10 patrols were conducted and three illegal activities were encountered (2 cases of illegal timber harvesting and 1 case of illegal charcoal harvesting).  The culprits were fined TZS 280,000 (USD $132).
Dihinda village reported 4 incidents of illegal timber harvesting and one incident of illegal charcoal making where the VNRC members seized 352 pieces of timber and 18 bags of charcoal. The products were stored at the village awaiting to be auctioned.

At Difinga village the communities in one of the sub-village took part in patrolling the forest and seized 160 pieces of illegally harvested timbers, which have been stored at the village office.


West Usambaras:

The team has been finalizing some of the construction work and following-up on the various water, micro-finance, agriculture, and bee-keeping initiatives.

Gorta, the previous donor, has indicated that it is unlikely that they will resume funding in the near future due to a shift in their organizational focus: away from water and into improved seeds.  As such, we still urgently need funding that will enable us to support the communities to demonstrate, for the first time in Tanzania, a successful integrated forest and water resources management plan!

New initiatives for 2015 - 2016:

The Forest Justice in Tanzania initiative is back in action with an ambitious work plan for this year that aims: to set forest conservation issues firmly on the nation's agenda as we get ready for elections; to tackle the current systemic distortions that result in the government spending almost nothing on the management of the nation's most important forests;  and to empower communities to benefit more from their forests through sustainable forest-based enterprises.

With agriculture being the main cause of deforestation in Tanzania, we are also on track to help communities in South Ngurus, East Usambaras and Rubehos to adopt more sustainable and more climate resilient agriculture in ways that avoid deforestation.

The African Rainforest Conservancy's (ARC's) field partner, the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), has been working in the West Usambaras in Tanzania for the past 15 years in participatory forest management and income generating activities. The West Usamabaras are very important due to a high presence of endemic species and water catchment areas. But more than 90% of the forests have been cleared for on-going agriculture practices and timber logging. In addition, people are very poor and don't have access to reliable, safe water.


  • 11 villages established participatory forest management
  • 380 bee hives distributed to 15 villages and about 500 beekeepers benefited
  • 929 litres of honey harvested by beekeepers and a total of $10,400,000 TZS ($5,675 USD) earned between June 2013 and October 2014
  • One beekeeping cooperative has been registered by Tanga Cooperative and a total of $963,000 TZS ($525 USD) in shares and registration fees collected by members
  • About $136,000,000 TZS ($74,223 USD) worth in shares contributed by village saving and lending groups
  •  42 tree nurseries established and about 500,000 tree seedlings planted annually
  • Fire campaigns conducted in 21 villages every year
  • 2,200 improved stoves distributed in 21 villages
  • 60 fish ponds established in 10 villages
  • Two Water User Associations formed and social assessments conducted
  • 10 domestic water supply projects constructed in 11 villages benefiting 12,000 people
  • Construction of rain water harvesting infrastructure in 15 primary schools
  • Training and installation of 10 low cost rainwater harvesting tanks
  • 2000 farmers stopped shifting cultivation after being trained on improved agriculture techniques through farm field school
  • Introduction of conservation agriculture techniques: raising horticultural crops, kitchen gardens, terracing, agro-forestry and drip irrigation
  • Water management using drip irrigation techniques introduced to 10 villages

 Challenges and Lessons Learnt:

  • Lack of continued funding in 2015
  • Lack of reliable market for agricultural produce
  • Pest and disease for agricultural crops
  • High cost of materials for construction of water projects
  • Illegal harvesting of trees for timber and poor communication between community and forest officers
  • Lack of infrastructure for irrigation
  • High demand for establishing more village saving and lending groups
  • Lack of equipment for processing other bee products, such as bee wax and proporis

Thank you for so generously donating to this project to conserve Tanzania's rainforest. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received and are grateful for this opportunity to partner with GlobalGiving to mobilize a network of people who so passionately care about the future of Tanzania's forests and the people who call them home. It is humbling to know that real progress is being made, but we are always mindful of all that still remains to be done.

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Organization Information

African Rainforest Conservancy (ARC)

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Namasha Schelling
Executive Director
New York, NY United States