by James L.Laizer
Carbon credits – an emerging hope for conservation in Tanzania
Tanzanian communities have started to earn income from carbon credits based on conservation projects they implement. Most recently, eight village communities – Lugonesi, Mwese, Lwega, Bujombe, Kapanga, Katuma, Mpembe and Kagunga – in Katavi Region, Tanganyika District, were reported to have received TSh 4.2 billion in carbon credit sales in December 2022 on top of TSh 2.3 billion received in the last eight months, taking their total income from carbon credits in 2022 to TSh 6.5 billion. The payments were received after carbon credits accumulated from forestry protection were sold to the voluntary carbon market. Carbon credits were made possible through technical support of an investor, Carbon-Tanzania, that entered a contract with village governments in 2017 to protect the Village Land Forest Reserve, thus generating certified carbon credits. The contract required the eight village communities to engage with Carbon-Tanzania in protecting their forests using the Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) system under the Ntakata Mountain Project.
These payments indicate the broader potential of rural villages to earn carbon credit funds through the effective implementation of conservations projects in Village Land Forest Reserves. By scaling-up similar projects in Tanzania, rural villages will not just enhance conservation and contribute to the global fight against climate change but will also ensure income generation and associated benefits to forest-owning communities across the country.
The main factor contributing to deforestation in Tanzania is unstainable agricultural practices that involve forest clearance due to shifting cultivation. Deforestation causes carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. Prevention measures thus result in emissions reduction which gain value as carbon credits.
Carbon-Tanzania is a leading investor amongst others with knowledge of carbon credit systems in Tanzania. They are focused on supporting and advising communities to enter into selling of credits on the voluntary carbon market, therefore providing communities with access to the global financial system. In 2021, communities earned over $1.5
million in carbon credit revenues which is equivalent to over TSh 3.4 billion. In December 2022, the Prime Minister of Tanzania Hon. Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa handed over a ‘dummy cheque’ to the beneficiaries’ villages and commended them for ensuring sustainable management of resources. Additionally, the prime minister advised the beneficiaries’ villages to make good use of the funds by investing in development projects that will benefit the communities longer term, especially in provision of health services. The PM specifically suggested the use of carbon funds for the construction of the Kagunga Dispensary, estimated to cost about TSh 180 million.
Thus far, the funds generated from carbon credit sales are said to have been used mainly for social service provision in the areas of education, markets, local government office support and health. According to the Tanganyika District Executive Director, Mr. Shaban Juma, Tsh 1.85 billion of carbon revenues were spent on community social service provision projects in 2021. However, he also mentioned key challenges facing carbon credit projects in the District of Tanganyika, including low understanding among citizens and related incidents such as wildfires, trees felling, livestock grazing and crop farming in the village land forest reserves.
According to Carbon-Tanzania’s CEO Mr. Mark Baker, the Ntakata Mountains Project covers 217,000 hectares of Miombo woodland in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem in western Tanzania, engaging over 38,000 people from the eight villages. The project also supports the protection of key habitats for endangered wildlife species including the eastern chimpanzees, wild dogs, Egyptian and lappet-faced vultures and vulnerable species such as elephants, ground hornbills, martial eagles, giraffes, pangolins, leopards and lions. The project also created important connectivity between the Greater Mahale ecosystem and Katavi National Park and allows a free movement of elephant and other wildlife within the ecosystem.
More effort required to lift tourist numbers to the peak in Tanzania
In October 2022, the Tanzania Vice President Hon. Phillip Mpango challenged public and private players to come up with promotion strategies that would attract more tourists. He expressed dissatisfaction with the contribution of the tourism sector to the national economy, calling for increased efforts to capitalise on the country’s natural resources. The target is to achieve USD $6bn in tourism earnings by 2025, requiring an increase in tourists to five million. He encouraged promotion of domestic tourism to attract recommendations to help address factors hampering tourism in the country.
The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) chairperson, Angelina Ngalula, notes that policies to ensure business continuity should be revisited to foster sustainable private sector development and build an enabling environment for entrepreneurship. Other areas that require government intervention and facilitation include the transition from the informal to the formal economy that are key to a human-centred, inclusive, shift to eco-tourism which is a fast-growing industry focused on conservation and job creation to locals as well as sustainable and resilient recovery of the tourism sector.
A call to protect wildlife
In December, environmental charity WWF launched the “Living Planet Report 2022,” in Dar es Salaam. This called for action to protect wildlife whose population globally has dropped at an alarming rate of 69% over the last 50 years. This assessment highlights “devastating” losses to nature due to human activity. During the launch, Marco Lambertini, outgoing Director General of WWF International, said WWF was extremely concerned by the new data that shows a great fall in wildlife populations, in particular in tropical regions like Tanzania that are home to some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world.
Tanzania is estimated to have been losing 469,000 hectares of vegetation cover per year. WWF Country Director Amani Ngusaru said Tanzania should protect the environment by adopting sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy, mining and construction to control climate change. According to Dr. Ngusaru, Tanzania experiences climate change impacts in form of drought, floods, and loss of land. The report clearly indicates early warning and immediate action for conservation and restoration in Tanzania and other tropical countries is necessary.