Robust awareness needed on sustainable afforestation

TREES provide vital ecological services to the natural and built environment, that no other man-made technology can substitute. A cool shed from sunrays, herbs for medication, fruits, timber, home-for-animals and birds and a natural attractor of rainfall, all these are services that trees cater for living organisms.

Despite immaculate favors rendered by trees still, the rate of deforestation is taking new shapes annually. The Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO ), shows 18 million hectares of forest-land are lost yearly, thus Tanzania losing around 130,000–500,000 hectares of land per annum. Population growth and it’s associated societal and economic demands by automation drives an impeccable sustainable tree-planting approach to the forefront.

Most of the rural dwellers in Tanzania depend on forests for their livelihood, where almost 90 percent of the forest is made up woodland. Much of the services offered range from energy harnessing and building materials. It is imperative for credible management practices to be fused into forest management, which compliments on people’s demands and simultaneously discouraging unsustainable uses of forest resources.

Thus, with vast deforestation across forestlands in Tanzania, afforestation tendencies ought to be fortified. Leering into the realworld, Erasto Njavike, a programme coordinator- Northern Zone, for Roots and Shoots an international organization, which strives to make earth a better place to live by championing understanding and protection of animals and environment.

Njavike, inspired by the founder (Jane Goodall), has become a key figure in instilling environmental conservation awareness to communities, whereby he has been levitating communities forestry management approaches especially sustainable ones.

As a conservation “think-tank” Njavike added: “Trees are cut at a fast pace, stakeholders ought to adopt a model that will change energy harnessing from trees (charcoal and firewood) and shift to renewable energy like wind and solar, which are cheap and eco-friendly. Whereby the government and stakeholders can come-up with an incentive approach of awarding points to renewable users to motivate diffusion of the idea and discourage the latter. Preferably executed as a pilot project in semi-urban and modernized rural areas trickling down to the periphery” .

Let alone local-forest resources demands, Njavike pointed out that “we need a huge shift on identifying and classifying our forestry demands, in some cases, exotic(un-matching) species are planted and affect the ecological services over space and time. We are more on economical-benefiting tree species than medical and ecological sating species especially in Njombe and Iringa zones, thus this alter the entire composition of afforestation, hence sustainable afforestation knowledge has to be introduced to all stakeholders”.

Despite tree-planting campaigns being rallied by political leaders and public figures, which inspire people to plant many saplings in urban and rural areas still Njavike, came up with a constructive critique to heed, saying “ There is a science behind tree planting, it is based on knowing all the aspects before planting, such as soil composition, climatic conditions, ecological-demands and socio-economical elements around the areas, of which dictate the survival of the trees.

In many cases, people plant trees without having the latter in mind, thus this leads to many trees being cut and dying over time and space.” It is evident that most of the communities especially those driven by timberbusiness enterprises, such as Njombe, Mafinga and Mufindi, tend to plant trees over time and space, thus as you might have guessed it, the lucrative business is being the catalyst for such environmental civility.

In spite of the above predicament, O mbeni Mosha, a natural resource management young-expert says: “In light of the grave threat posed by deforestation, country and worldwide, forests play an important role in alleviating land degradation and desertification, as they represent a significant global carbon stock.”

Mosha, who has established a tree nursery and engaged in voluntary tree planting and awareness campaigns, is proud to have aided the afforestation movement, to combat land degradation and its friends: soil erosion, soil salinity and loss of fertile land, by planting 80 trees in his home village.

Translating the afforestation narrative back onto other real-life practical experience, Fredrick Mwalongo, a young agroforestry entrepreneur begins by shedding light on afforestation basics, where he signifies that “afforestation is strictly the intentional establishment of trees on the place where previously had no trees”.

Mwalongo began planting saplings since he was young and his parents are to be cherished due to their custom of planting family trees every first-January of each year till to date. This made Mwalongo, to make huge steps in complimenting the environmental policy (2004), objective of combating land degradation by planting 3,000 trees since his childhood to present, by having his magic number of 100 trees per year on his sleeve.

Aloyce Mhujo, a younglawyer but also an aspiring environmental-conserver has an eye for trees, of which made him plant around 80 saplings in his home, back in school, hospitals, public and open spaces. Mhujo comes in as a novice but with plenty of ideas adding “High temperatures, low rainfall patterns,and weather changes are some of the adverse effects triggered by deforestation due to rural-energy demands, hence adopting eco-friendly charcoal options made out of papers and dust can tackle deforestation”.

Education and awareness ought to be propagated to the mass pertaining afforestation, this will strengthen the positions that people have taken so far, thanks to the previous rigid campaigns waged by local and regional leaders across the nation.

Njavike being the first Tanzanian to be in Antarctica on a climate change mission, identifies that “afforestation could combat climate change adverse impact(rise of temperature and carbon emission), with strategic approaches aimed at individual, and regional levels, we can channel climate change adaptation and mitigation measures via sustainable afforestation that is holistic and strategic with all vital stakeholders on the table.

O ne of the sensitization measures could be storytelling, elders telling the young about the past forestry reserves services, to inspire the young to take up conservation and afforestation seriously” It is imperative to include a sustainable approach in afforestation amidst environmental ills and climate change challenges threatening the livelihood of more than 70 percent across Tanzania living in rural areas. With the appropriate knowledge and intervention, economic, socio-cultural and healthy forestry demands can be met.


* Padili Mikomangwa, is an Environmentalist based in Dar es Salaam, Contact: 076 36 35 5 9 7 , or Email:padilijm@ gmail.com

Author: Padili Mikomangwa

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