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

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:

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