Life in the FSC Forest

“Before FSC®, we used to get 100 Tanzanian shillings per tree and this wasn’t always guaranteed since most of this timber was being harvested illegally.

“This money was not enough for us to do anything.

“We are now making over 100,000 Tanzanian shillings for every cubic meter we harvest. We are able to build our schools and hospitals now with money from the forest.

“We did not know how valuable our forests were.”

Rafii Hashim from Kisangi village

Lying just to the south of the equator, Tanzania is one of two major African blackwood-exporting countries, the other being Mozambique, Tanzania’s southern neighbour.

ENVIRONMENTALLY RICH – FINANCIALLY POOR

In environmental terms, Tanzania is extremely wealthy – think Serengeti and Kilimanjaro. However, financially it is one of the world’s poorest countries, with widespread urban and rural poverty.

Lindi Region, in the south of Tanzania, is one of the most heavily forested parts of Tanzania and experiences high-levels of illegal logging.

A 2007 TRAFFIC report estimated that as much as 96% of logging was carried out on an illegal basis.

The loss of revenue at the District level, money that could benefit forest-dependent people, was estimated at US$56 million.

FSC-CERTIFICATION – THE GAME CHANGER

FSC-certification is a game-changer for those villages that want to challenge illegal logging and utilise the full benefits from the forest resources that are at the core of their livelihoods.

Six villages are now FSC-certified under the group certificate held by the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative with forest covered under the programme totaling 20,961 hectares.

THE WORLD’S FIRST FSC-CERTIFIED AFRICAN BLACKWOOD HARVEST

Kikole village carried out the world’s first FSC-certified African blackwood harvest in December 2009.

The village received a payment of around £1,200 in return for 15 cubic metres of African Blackwood. Previously the community would only have received around five pence per log.

In all Kikole were able to realise an income nearly 400 times more than they would have received previously on the 63 logs which were sold.

Mr Mwinyimkuu Awadhi, Chairman of Kikole village, comments: “In 2009 the communities of Kikole Village have realized for the first time the benefits from selling our own timber. All the money was paid to the villages unlike in the past where by this money would have gone to the government. We the villagers now have full control of our forest resources and we will benefit even more when we do more harvesting in the near future.”

Local resident, Mwanaisha Likoko adds: “Changes have come to our village through the forest we own and manage under our control, the money we have received will be used within our village to improve our social services.”

Kikole spent the money from its first harvest as follows:

  • 50% on forest management – patrolling (twice a month, to deter illegal logging and monitor the forest) & boundary clearance (fire protection).
  • 25% on building a new house for the village midwife – without it she would have left to live in another village.
  • 25% on a new borehole to provide better water for the entire community.

THE BENEFITS OF FSC SPREAD OUT ACROSS MULTIPLE VILLAGES

The second and third FSC harvests took place in early 2011 in a Kikole, Kisangi, Liwiti and Nainowke villages with a combined £5,500 paid for 91cubic metres of wood.

56-year-old Rafii Hashim from Kisangi village said:

“Before FSC, we used to get 100 Tanzanian shillings per tree and this wasn’t always guaranteed since most of this timber was being harvested illegally. This money was not enough for us to do anything.” says the father of 13 children.

“This thing called FSC has helped us conserve our forests better. It has helped us know when it is right to harvest and when it is not. We are now making over 100,000 Tanzanian shillings for every cubic meter we harvest. All this knowledge will help us harvest our trees in a way that doesn’t harm the forest and ensure that even our children will have a forest to enjoy,” he says.

 

“We use the forest for many things. Many stomach ailments in my household are treated using medicine from the forest, from roots and leaves that make our children stronger. Today, our forests are even more beneficial to us after the education we have received so far to open our eyes and mind. We are able to build our schools and hospitals now with money from the forest. We did not know how valuable our forests were until we received education from Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative,” notes Rafii.

 

 

“Before, both outsiders and village insiders harvested trees illegally. Today, every villager watches the forest and takes care of it. We even want to increase the FSC certified acreage so that our villages can continue to benefit even more from our forests,” explains Rafii