The Angai Forest is located in Liwale District. It is one of the largest remaining forest blocks in Tanzania with ~140,000 ha of miombo woodland habitat, including generous standing stocks of high-value hardwood timber species.
There are 24 villages located within the Angai Forest, many of which were among the earliest introduced to Participatory Forest Management (PFM) in Tanzania; village governments together with regional and district authorities, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and several supporting partners have been preparing the legal and institutional arrangements for PFM since 1994. Despite these efforts, the process of completing and implementing forest management plans has been slow for Angai Forest communities and the absence of legally recognised, operational, and commercialised Village Land Forest Reserves (VLFRs) has restricted the ability of the communities to generate adequate revenues from selling forest products. (Active management plans are necessary for villages to maintain their tax-exempt status in respect to timber obtained from VLFRs, without which revenues revert to the central government.) With few tangible benefits as payment for their management efforts, local people became demoralised and reluctant to take action against illegal logging within community forests.
Our work in Angai Forest
In October 2013, MCDI (in partnership with MJUMITA and Liwale District Council) took the lead on PFM facilitation in the Angai Forest. We were invited to spearhead this effort by a bilateral development project, LIMAS, based on our skills and experience implementing PFM in Kilwa District, where we have successfully boosted community rights and benefits from forest resources through VLFR establishment.
By February 2014, we had helped 3 villages – Kitogoro, Mtawatawa and Litou - to gain legal tenure over community forests through writing management plans and enacting byelaws (among the final yet most technically challenging steps in the PFM process). We also helped them to prepare logging crews to inventory their forest segments and reinstated hopes to benefit from timber revenues from their VLFRs; the first communities were set to begin sustainable timber harvesting in June 2014. Since MCDI’s involvement, communities have began patrolling their forests frequently to enforce their byelaws and combat illegal activities, and confiscated illegal timber from forest offenders, suggesting that they have regained a sense of ownership over their forest resources. We began assisting two additional villages – Kiangara and Kibutuka – to draft and begin the VLFR management plan approval process in 2014 and anticipate contracts to work in ~20 villages in the Angai Forest.
We work closely with Liwale District Council to help ensure that Angai village forest management plans can be developed and approved as efficiently as possible. Unlike previous interventions in the area, MCDI also assist communities as they put their new management plans into action and begin harvesting timber. Our partner, MJUMITA, plays an important role by engaging with local people to: (a) raise awareness within the communities about the work we are doing, and (b) ensure as far as possible that our projects are benefiting the entire populace, as opposed to just a few individuals.
Working in the Angai Forest represented the first expansion of our work to include forest areas outside of Kilwa District, and the start of a new role for MCDI as a key provider of PFM facilitation services in Tanzania.