Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania on Tuesday announced a
new program aimed at transforming some of its key forests into
being highly protected to save the east African nation from
turning into desert.
The move is aimed at strengthening
conservation of forests that are are overwhelmed with wantonly
tree felling for timber and fuel wood.
Faustin Kamuzora, Tanzania’s Permanent
Secretary in the Vice President Office (VPO) said that under the
proposed program, Morogoro-based Sokoine University of
Agriculture (SUA) has been mandated to identify those forests
that would fall under that category before presenting its
recommendations to the VPO.
The official described the pace at
which tree felling is taking as “a very serious concern.”
“Our forests are overwhelmed with
wantonly tree felling. It is better we take actions now by
identifying forests that are mainly for serious
conservation,” stressed Kamuzora.
He said that the fifth-phase
government is determined to become one of the middle-income
nations by 2025 through industrialization. “And we’ll only
realize that dream if we manage well our environment,
particularly forests. So, it’s important to tame deforestation
now,” he said.
Gerald Monela, SUA vice-chancellor
said their mission is to replenish degraded natural vegetation
in Morogoro and the country at large.
He added: “This will also give
opportunities for ordinary people to take part in the
campaign by directly planting trees in their localities.”
Tanzania is home to one of the largest
tree covers in the world, but it’s at risk. A forest inventory
by the Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) in 2015 found that
forests and wooded areas cover over 48 million hectares of land,
more than the entire state of California. It also found that
wood remains the main source of fuel for Tanzanians, even in
Trees are felled for firewood or
turned into charcoal. With a steady population growth rate over
3 percent, community forests designated to supply wood for fuel
are unable to support the growing demand. That daily necessity
is causing some serious problems, according to experts.
“Biomass energy provides 92 percent of
energy needs, which is causing an unsustainable use of
forest resources,” said Florian Mkeya, manager of natural
forests at the TFS, who worked on the report.
The current deforestation rate in
Tanzania is approaching 373,000 hectares per year, making it
among the highest in East Africa.