Sustainable Timber

Hardwood timber is among the more valuable natural resources in south-eastern Tanzanian forests. Thus, responsibly harvesting and selling major hardwood timber species presents a significant potential revenue earner for the local forest-dependent rural communities, provided that: (a) sufficient stocks of large trees remain on village lands, and (b) they secure a fair price per unit of timber sold.

Communities which have taken control of their forests by legally setting aside Village Land Forest Reserves (VLFRs) are in a better position to benefit from selling the timber contained within them. This is because the revenues generated by selling forest products can be fully retained by the village council (i.e. none is paid in royalties to the central government). This acts as a financial incentive for local people to manage their forests responsibly.

It is not enough, however, for a village to simply have timber for sale; as with other commercial goods, local people need to identify markets with sufficient demand in order to sell their timber. This is a task that rural communities in Tanzania do not always have sufficient capacity to achieve. In the absence of buyers, communities struggle to generate real benefits from managing their natural timber resources which, in turn, can curtail local efforts to conserve forests.

At MCDI, we not only support communities to set up VLFRs under Participatory Forest Management but, once this is achieved, we help them to generate income through timber sales. We do this by:

  • Supporting villages to identify markets and buyers for their timber, including
    providing training on sales and marketing strategies;
  • Certifying community forests with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to drive timber sales;
  • Facilitating sales transactions by liaising with and providing technical and logistical support
    to forest managers (the communities), timber buyers, and other stakeholders throughout the
    timber harvesting process.

Find out how to buy timber from MCDI-supported community forests here.