The lives of all Tanzanians depend on natural resources for both the present and future generations. The country is endowed with significant natural resources, which include Forests and Woodlands, wild animals, rivers, lakes and wetlands. All these resources play big roles to the economy in terms of the social and economic goods and services, which they provide. The depletion of these resources will positively undermine the ecological sustainability of economic activity.
Mbilinyi Forestry Conservation Programme is an initiative being implemented in 1994 by Wangama village community in Njombe District Iringa region in Tanzania Mbilinyi Forestry Conservation Programme, is an initiative specializing in tree planting, soil erosion control, water sources management, care and protection of planted trees and Natural tree Conservation. It is located at Wangama village 45km from Njombe town. The tree nursery is ½ acre while the total land area of tree farms is 600 acres and area under conservation is more 2,700 hectares
In the past decade mountains surrounding the village used to play a key role in natural resources productivity and wild animals. The estimated 2,700 hectors of natural forestland comprises of high level of biodiversity, population increase caused more demand for forestry produce, arable land for cultivation, hunting activities have been created. Shifting cultivation, which is associated with use of fire, became rampant and soil erosion continued unchecked. Wildfires coupled with illegal over – exploitation of forest products also became subsequent phenomena, which reached an alarming stage.
Consequently, both the viable ecosystems and potential agricultural land become impaired or depleted to the extend of threatening the appearance of rare and endemic plant and animal species. This situation to a great extent disturbed the equilibrium of rural livelihood and their relationship with the natural resource base. For example women in Wangama village had to walk 16 km in search of firewood thus undermining their roles in agricultural production and childcare also youth started moving to town for search of jobs and life
This has serious implications considering that hundred percent in our community depends on firewood and charcoal as their major source of energy while at the same time an estimated 20% of the existing woodland is cleared annually due to uncontrolled tree felling and cultivation.
The programme was formed in order to solve the environmentally related problems. Within the framework of the programme Mbilinyi Forestry Conservation Programme developed an income-generating project in order to solve the environmentally related problems because poverty is both a cause and symptom of environmental degradation.
The community suffered from these two categorized environmental related problems
Decline of Household energy; hundred percent in our community depend on firewood and charcoal. Shifting cultivation, over exploitation of natural forest products, uncontrolled grazing hence devegetation and soil erosion has caused this. Women had to walk more than 16km searching for firewood thus undermining their roles in agricultural production and childcare. We have developed forest farms closer to household hence reducing women’s workload.
Decline in commodity prices of farmer’s principal cash crops such as maize, pyrethrum, coffee and beans. Farmers are increasingly viewing timber as active cash generating farm enterprise hence reducing poverty at large