Did you know that the Coastal Forests of Tanzania are among the ten most threatened in the world? We're not talking about the most threatened in Africa or East Africa for that matter, we're talking about the entire world. This is huge and this is why for over twenty years ARC has been at the helm to conserve Tanzania's forests. And thanks to people like you who support and champion our work we are currently working to conserve over 250,000 acres of high-biodiversity forest in eight mountain and coastal regions throughout Tanzania (this encompasses nearly 150 villages and 300,000 people).
One of the Coastal Forests we are currently supporting is the Ruvu South Forest Reserve (RSFR) - one of the most extensive areas of coastal forest in Tanzania. The government of Tanzania has long neglected the reserve, which has allowed illegal charcoal production to take off due to the forest's proximity to the major urban center of Dar es Salaam. While working hard to advocate for joint management of this forest (national policy and law support community participation in the management of government forest reserves), ARC's field partner the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) has been supporting a variety of forest management, advocacy, and development activities with the ten villages that neighbor RSFR to help mitigate forest loss (remote sensing analysis and field surveys indicate that this forest will be gone in less than 23 years if loss continues at its current rate).
In a recent update from the field, we learned of some great steps forward for RSFR in recent months, highlights include:
- Re-establishing a dialogue between the reserve management and the communities by hosting a series of joint meetings and by advocating for the reserve management to take action to stop the ongoing deforestation. TFCG has used a variety of approaches to advocate for more effective and more participatory reserve management, including meetings with the reserve management; media coverage including programs on national television and radio; and presentations during stakeholder meetings. This has resulted in a shift in attitude from the reserve management and a stated willingness to reactivate the joint forest management process.
- For several years, following a deterioration in the relations between the communities and the government, the communities had refused to participate in joint forest patrols. Following a series of meetings held between the reserve management and the communities over the last six months, the communities have now agreed to participate in joint patrols again and six patrols have so far been conducted.
- During meetings between the communities and the Reserve Management, the communities demanded to receive a share of the revenue from illegal forest products confiscated during the joint patrols. The Reserve Management agreed to share 20% of the revenues from confiscated produce and to give 100% of the fines from bicycles found illegally in the reserve (TZS 25,000 per bicycle).
- The Reserve Management has taken action to remove about half of the charcoal production camps in the Forest Reserve. About 36 camps have been dismantled and the charcoal producers have been moved on. This renewed activity followed a series of media programs facilitated by TFCG that highlighted the destruction of the reserve.
It is humbling to know that real progress is being made, but we are always mindful of all that still remains to be done. The cover story of TFCG's latest "The Arc Journal" provides additional details about Dar es Salaam's "greenbelt forests" and we hope you'll check it out.
We are excited to let you know that this Wednesday, June 13th is GlobalGiving Bonus Day and all donations to this project will be MATCHED at 50%!* Will you help us do even more for Tanzania's forests? Your additional gift of $20 will become $30 and your $50 gift will become $75. Forward this email, post the report on your Facebook page, tweet about it on Twitter - tell your friends why you chose to support this project and ask them to make a gift too. It is amazing what we can accomplish when we all do our small part.
On behalf of all of us at ARC, THANK YOU for helping us conserve Tanzania's forests for generations to come.
*Donations will be matched between 12:01am EDT and 11:59pm EDT on June 13th, up to $1,000 per donor.