28 December 2012

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Develops Vegetation Map

TANZANIA is currently in the last stages of finalizing a vegetation map that will show different vegetation zones across the country.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Professor Rogers Malimbwi from the Forest Department, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) said that the exercise which started in 2010 will also enable the government have an official database of all tree species across the country, regardless of ownership.

"The field teams have assessed soil and its carbon content, which act as massive carbon stores. The soil samples are being analyzed at SUA", said Prof. Malimbwi. He added that areas which were not reached due to difficulties including dense vegetation constituted only 11 per cent.

"Areas that could not be reached by the field teams did not have roads, the forests cover was dense, and we had a principle that if an areas takes more than three days, it should be left out," he explained. Another reason, Prof Malimbwi explained is that, it would be difficult for human beings to have reached those areas to destroy them from cutting trees for charcoal or timber.

He noted that South Africa and Tanzania are the only countries that have conducted Forests Inventory Assessment, adding some countries have started showing the interest. He explained that some of the field teams will be dispatched to Zambia for experience sharing exercise and the team will also help Zanzibar start its inventory exercise in January 2013.

Preliminary results of a three-year National Forest Resources Monitoring and Assessment (NAFORMA) project show that Tanzania has about 74 billion trees. Professor Malimbwi from the SUA and a NAFORMA consultant said a complete result will be given out early next year, once the analysis is completed.

"The exercise took in all trees including those that are individually owned, farm lands and national forests. We also counted coconuts, Baobabs, cashew nut trees," he explained.

According to FAO, National Forest Resources Monitoring and Assessment (NAFORMA) exercise cost nearly 6 US million dollars, with the government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism contributing 794,200 dollars, the rest coming from donors, mostly the government of Finland. Statistics show that one third of the country is forest and approximately 1% of the forest is lost annually to deforestation.

He noted that the database will help the country assess its forest resources including carbon stock stored within its forests under the requirement to Reduce Emission through deforestation and sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+).

According to information on Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the project is one of 5 pilot projects around the world overseen by the FAO and funded by the government of Finland. The pilot projects were announced in 2009, in response to calls from the UN for developing nations to reduce their emissions through deforestation and degradation (REDD).

Prof Malimbwi noted that the database will be valuable to policy makers in the country, who will formulate policies that ensure the country's most valuable forests are conserved and utilized in a sustainable way, which will in turn help mitigate climate change.

NAFORMA field teams gathered information from more than 3,000 sites, including biophysical data about trees, landscape and socio economic information gathered through interviews with locals.

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