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CBO empowered to manage forest resources of Masito-Ugala ecosystem in Kigoma

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Issue date: 
November 18, 2010
Publisher Name: 
Daily News
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IN Kigoma, Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) is preparing local communities to benefit from REDD initiative within seven villages bordering the rich biodiversity Masito-Usagalla Ecosystem.

The representatives from seven villages of Ilagara, Karago, Songambele, Sigunga, Sunuka and Kirando and Lyabusende have attended training on forest management practices. Each of the participants was involved in forest resource mapping and set strategies to protect forests resources, marine life in Lake Tanganyika and on the environment in general in their areas.

“We have a land use plan, by-laws to curb environmental degradation and everyone in the village is now sensitized on conservation of the environment,” said Naomi Kabange, a resident of Sunuka village who has been under REDD project training of trainers since early this year.

The JGI under its Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD)project, is among institutions in the country which is helping communities to prepare and benefit from carbon credit trading that will come with a post Kyoto Protocol agreement on efforts to curb global warming.

“We want these communities bordering Masito- Ugalla Ecosystem in Kigoma and Mpanda to help protect the natural forest area which is an important agent in addressing the impact of global warming,” said Edwin Nssoko, REDD Project Director at JGI.

Scientists argue that deforestation and forest fires in Tropical countries account for 17 per cent of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere which has led to an increase in global temperatures.

Experts warn that if this trend continues unchecked, temperatures could rise significantly within the next two to three decades.

“REDD initiative is an attempt to contain factors such as deforestation among communities whose livelihoods depend on natural forests,” said Professor Pius Yanda from University of Dar es Salaam’s Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA).

JGI has received funding from Royal Norwegian Embassy in Dar es Salaam to help communities in some parts of the country learn basics of forest management initiatives that incorporate tracking of carbon data and the sale of earned carbon credits.

The Norwegians have committed over 500m/- to Tanzania covering the next five years to help the country prepare for REDD implementation and benefit from carbon trading by 2013. The REDD project covers 70,000 hectares of pristine area within Masito- Ugalla Ecosystem where the local communities and local government staff have been empowered through awareness creation, capacity building and training to manage and monitor forests and to sell carbon credits in the global market through REDD.

“In the project area, we want charcoal makers to stop the practice and instead shift to other income generating activities. We hope to establish a revolving fund that will provide credit to villagers to acquire modern beehives and learn entrepreneurial skills,” said Mr Nssoko.

Nssoko’s argument rightly fits with JGI founder, Dr Jane Goodall and Norwegian Government officials who strongly advocated for a global funding to assist communities in Tropical forest countries find alternative income generating activities other than engaging in excessive exploitation of forests.

In December 2009, while attending the UN Climate Change Conference which was held in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, Dr Goodall pointed out that deforestation has to be curbed if rising global temperatures are to come under control.

Tropical deforestation which accounts for about 17 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the Norwegian championed REDD initiative, were hot topics at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

“One of the major concerns raised at the Copenhagen conference is that traditional landowners won’t benefit from forest based projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere,” said Dr Goodall.

“We will show how rural communities can lead REDD efforts, working together with governments to improve their lives, conserve the rich natural landscapes in which they live, and secure the future for generations to come,” she argued.

Under the GI REDD Project, communities in Kigoma and Mpanda (Rukwa region) are already taking the lead and many villagers are excited at the inclusion of their impoverished villages whose forest resources are being overexploited.

“With the passing of tough by-laws to conserve forests and the environment in general lands, our village hopes to leap the benefits of carbon trading in future,” said Kisubi Hassan from Kirando village.

Mr Hassan who is secretary of Jumuiya ya Watunzaji wa Msitu wa Masuto-Ugalla (JUWAMA), said sensitization has brought things under control.

“Charcoal makers, people accused of setting alight forests, dynamite fishermen are all sensitized and we are seeing few cases of such kinds of crimes,” Hassan noted. Communities in the seven villages of Kigoma under the JGI REDD Project have approved tough laws including a penalty of up to 50,000/- or up to 12 months imprisonment with hard labor, for anyone found guilty of degrading the environment.

Both penalties can also be imposed on culprits by magistrates. In Mpanda district of Rukwa region where large part of the Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem exists, a similar project by JGI is underway.

“We thought that unless the forest is protected on both sides, destruction would continue if communities in Mpanda were left out of the project,” noted Nssoko.

Under REDD initiative, the country will only benefit if money earned through carbon trading goes directly to communities and not governments and middlemen.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut