Participatory Forest Management in Tanzania

Since the late 1990s, the government of Tanzania pursued forest reform policies promoting community participation in forest management as a way to prevent natural forests degradation from human activity, as well as enhancing the benefits of participatory forest management (PFM) to thousands of villages living within the margins of forests and natural woodlands.

The Forest Policy of 1998 and the Forest Act of 2002 of Tanzania provide the legal basis for communities to own and manage forest resources on village lands through two approaches: Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) on community or private land or Joint Forest Management (JFM) within government forest reserves. At the sub-national level, community forests management in Tanzania is a joint effort between the district councils and the local village councils, allowing co-management benefits where the villages retain a portion of the income.

The harvest and sale of forest products can provide a ‘safety net’ for resource poor households. Honey, charcoal and fuel wood harvested from managed forest contributed up to 58% of cash income of farmers in six villages studies. While a number of these activities are prohibited –fire management, farming settlement, charcoal production–  livelihood activities related to food security are not –fruits and vegetable gathering, seasonal grazing of livestock and bee-keeping.


  • Improving forest quality through sustainable management practices;
  • Improving livelihoods and food security through increased forest revenues
  • Securing supply of subsistence forest products
  • Allowing for forest governance at village and district levels through effective and accountable natural resource management institutions


  • By 2008, up to 25% of forest land in Tanzania was covered under PFM in 2008, reaching nearly 600,000 households in 1,800 villages, with over 7,000 participating households across 60 or more districts, providing for the rehabilitation and preservation of 4.12 million ha of both reserved and unreserved forest.
  • This large scale forest conservation effort also is supported by a long list of local and external donors.
  • PFM has resulted in the decentralization of forests governance to local village user groups, providing new policy opportunities on land with enhanced tenure rights for forest margin dwellers, and benefiting women in particular.

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