A Review of Land and Natural Resource Management Policies and Laws in Tanzania

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Community Natural Resource Management in Tanzania

A new report, Community Natural Resources Management in Tanzania, by Andrew Williams and published in December 2017 by the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), reviews Tanzania’s land and natural resource management policies and laws which provide a framework for enabling local communities to varyingly administer, manage and sustainably utilize their land and natural resources. The report analyses how effective these laws have been, particularly over the last 15-20 years from when most were promulgated, in enabling communities to secure tenure over their common property resources – principally pastures, forests and wildlife.

This work was commissioned by ABCG’s Land and Resource Tenure Rights working group through the African Wildlife Foundation and World Resources Institute as part of their work in examining progressive land and natural resource management policies and laws which provide a comprehensive framework for enabling local communities to administer, manage and sustainably utilize their land and natural resources, such as Group Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs).

The report points to challenges in the Tanzania’s community land and natural resource laws, for instance, both the Village Land Act, and the Land Use Planning Act (2007), have only been implemented in a very limited way, and often not very well. The sectoral laws were designed with differing approaches as to how communities should be endowed with user rights over their land-based natural resources. The forest law extensively devolved management and benefit rights to communities from the outset whereas the wildlife law adopted a much more cautious and conservative approach, and only through repeated advocacy has the law devolved improved levels of management and economic rights to communities. Even so today, the law still does not allow communities to fully manage and benefit from wildlife resources on their land, and the central government maintains a bureaucratic grip on how community wildlife management operates.

The state of community natural resource management in Tanzania does not look good. The report notes that many Wildlife Management Areas (the designated legal form for community wildlife management) are barely functioning, as they have struggled to attract the necessary partnerships with the private sector to generate the revenues. Many of these Wildlife Management Areas have low levels of wildlife and varying levels of unplanned settlement and conversion to agriculture.

Securing a Certificate of Village Land, Carrying out Village Land Use Planning, and Group Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy are key conclusions made in the report for enabling communities secure commons in Tanzania.

The report makes the following recommendations towards supporting communities to safeguard their commons in increasingly challenging circumstances:

  • Review the new (draft) National Land Policy 2016 and its accompanying implementation strategy – identifying key areas of concern and missed opportunities for improving the policy and legal framework underpinning village-based land and natural resource management.
  • Review the existing Village Land Act and its associated regulations and laws a longer-term undertaking in relation to the new National Land Policy and its implementation strategy, is to carry out a review of the Village Land Act as a pro-active step towards ensuring that its key strengths are safeguarded, and that recommendations for improving its shortcomings are readied in advance of the amendments to the Land Laws that will surely be tabled in Parliament in due course.
  • Review and strengthen the legal safeguards for using Group Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy (GCCRO) to secure pastoralist and hunter-gatherer commons – the ‘legal light touch’ approach that has thus far been taken should be thoroughly reviewed to address a number of risks around addressing the lack of a sufficiently strong legal relationship between the ‘trustees’ who hold the customary right of occupancy certificate on behalf of the community.
  • Pilot the use of group certificates to secure and better manage grazing in other contexts – to date GCCROs have been used in the northern Tanzanian rangelands to increasingly good effect amongst pastoral and hunter-gatherer groups but not yet much elsewhere. What about their suitability, for example, in the Miombo woodlands with mixed farming and socio-culturally different agro-pastoralist communities?
  • Review and document the emergence of more innovative and entrepreneurial models for scaling up community-based forest management – there are parallel ongoing initiatives which have adopted different business models in developing and scaling up sustainable forest management (i.e. timber and charcoal harvesting) across the country, mostly facilitated by NGOs. What are the emerging lessons from these initiatives, and what is required to enable the most promising models go to further scale?
  • Review best practice business relationships between the wildlife tourism private-sector and communities – in terms of structuring long-term performance-based partnerships for both photographic and tourism sport hunting, for which extensive knowledge and expertise exists from, for example, Namibia and Kenya.
  • Investigate arrangements for integrating all natural resource management at village level – the sectoral approach adopted by government has limited the options available for communities in terms of how they manage their common property resources. Some Wildlife Management Areas have significant volumes of exploitable timber, and some community-based forests potentially have exploitable wildlife. Both forestry and wildlife laws generally permit joint community wildlife and forestry management, but this has yet to be explored or implemented.

Findings from the report will be used to influence policy and strategy for enabling successful common property resource management for local communities.

See related publication: The Local Community Viewpoint Regarding the Review, Procedure, and Process of Writing the Tanzanian National Land Policy


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