WANTON destruction of forests estimated between 130,000 and 500,000 hectares per year has caught the attention of the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS), currently set to unveil a comprehensive plan to control deforestation and increase community awareness on tree planting and conservation of the environment.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam at an occasion to mark the beginning of a three-day World Wood Day symposium, the TFS Chief Executive, Mr Juma Mgoo, said recent estimates show that total wood consumption in Tanzania is about 87 million cubic metres, while annual growth is about 76 million cubic metres; hence makes an annual wood deficit of about 11 million cubic metres.
"A comprehensive road map will be unveiled shortly entailing all-inclusive forest protection measures that include compulsory tree planting by individuals, institutions and other parties using wood fuel to bridge the gap," Mgoo explained.
In the course of implementation of the detailed dossier, said the CEO, the perception that tree planting and conservation of the environment was government's business will be brushed aside.
The main causes of loss of Tanzania's forests, woodlands and biodiversity include shifting cultivation, planned agriculture, development of settlements, overgrasing uncontrolled fires and cutting trees for charcoal production as well as over-exploitation of forest resources for income generation and domestic uses.
"Deployment of officers from the forestry department together with locally trained assistants will help in the forthcoming continuous campaign otherwise trees will disappear completely in the next ten years," he explained. The event has brought together participants from 45 different countries including wood carvers who also shared views on ways to conserve the environment.
Fredric Ngwandi from Kigali, Rwanda said everyone in his country was made to be aware of forest conservation. "The central government has made it an obligation that nobody should cut down a tree without a special permit. Local authorities as well are very strict on the matter," Ngwandi explained.
Gosego Motlogelwa also a wood carver said in his country wood carving was strictly based on dry wood because nobody was allowed to cut down a tree. "Tree planting is also a national event that every person has to take part irrespective of status," he explained.
Tanzania is covered with forests and woodland which are estimated to be between 30 and 40 million hectares. The forests and woodlands are subject to immense pressure leading to high rate of deforestation.