Forest and Forestry in Tanzania: Changes and Continuities in Policies and Practices From Colonial Times to the Present

Edward Mgaya


The forest sector has a very important role to play in Tanzania’s economy.
Although, in absolute terms, their contribution to total gross domestic
product (GDP) is relatively low, the country’s forests contain such a high
level of resources that make Tanzania one of the richest and most bio-
diverse countries. Due to such importance, forestry has variably featured in
Tanzanian policies from colonial time to the present. This paper, therefore,
examines such policies relating to forests and forestry in Tanzania from the
colonial to recent times. It argues that, although there has been a change in
the approach from a preservationist approach in the colonial and
postcolonial period towards a managerial/win-win approach in the current
forest conservation, there is a resurgence of the preservationist tendency in
the focus on managing forest solely to increase carbon stocks. Drawing
evidences from various existing policy documents and other literature, this
paper concludes that forestry policies have been, and continue to reveal a
notable protectionist and reservationist propensity while also expecting
revenues from them through various forest products. These policies, to a
greater extent, have throughout resulted into conflicts between both colonial
and post-colonial states and local population who demands free access to the
forest resources for their survival.

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