Concern as half of Tanzania’s protected areas threatened

Wednesday November 23 2016

By George Sembony @TheCitizenTz news@tz.nationmedia.com

Mtwara. Over half of the country’s protected areas, including world heritage sites, national parks and marine reserves and sanctuaries would be affected by extractive industry activities and interests in the near future if immediate steps are not taken, an activist with the Mazingira Network (Manet) has argued.

Manet executive secretary Frank Luvanda said there is need f for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to push International Oil Companies (IOCs) to comply with international safety environmental standards to protect Tanzania’ environment for future generations.

Manet is an umbrella organisation for CSOs dealing with the environmental conservation agenda.

Speaking at a workshop to introduce the second phase of the Oil for Development (OfD II) project in Mtwara recently, Mr Luvanda pointed out that the push can be made through the media in spearheading compliance to international standards.

He said there are a total of 618 protected areas in the country out of which 515 could be affected by extractive industry (EI) activities or interest. About 194 out of these protected areas are within a 20 kilometre radius of EI activities or interest.

“Only 103 protected areas would not be affected by EI activities or interest,” Mr Luvanda said.

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Furthermore, four World Heritage Sites would be affected by EI activities while 14 out of 16 National Parks would also be affected by those activities with one of them being within a 20 kilometre radius of the EI activities, Mr Luvanda added.

He added that all the five documented marine national parks would be affected by EI activities or interests if steps are not taken to rectify the situation but none is within the 20-km radius of those activities or interests.

There is evidence, he noted, that IOCs tended to adhere to international environmental safety standards in their home countries while ignoring the same when operating in poor countries such as Tanzania.

The second phase of the OfD II project is known as ‘Limiting Negative Impacts of Oil and Gas Development on Nature, People and Climate in Tanzania through Civil Society Engagement and Advocacy (2016- 2018)’.

The aim of the project is to make sure that the affected ecosystems maintain their integrity, and products and services provided by these ecosystems, particularly to the vulnerable and the poor.

The project is being executed by the World Wildlife Fund with financial support from the Norwegian government through its International Development Cooperation agency, Norad.

He mentioned other measures designed to push IOCs to comply, apart from media engagement as including demanding Environmental Impact Assessment reports on projects undertaken by IOCs and Environmental Management Plans.

Other measures are undertaking monitoring and assessment on compliance to environmental safety standards and waste management and disposal facilities and engaging the central government effectively so that oil and gas development in Tanzania is conducted in what Luvanda termed as the ‘right way that considers ecological conservation and sustainability’.

WWF TCO Oil & Gas + Energy Programme officer Roy Namgera said that the project has the overall purpose of ensuring that by 2018 Tanzania has an active, empowered and informed civil society that has the ability to effectively influence government and petroleum companies to safeguard ecosystems, people and global climate during petroleum resource development.

Speaking on how WWF has contributed in the past and now in limiting negative impacts of oil and gas development on nature, people and climate in Tanzania Namgera said that WWF is a founding member of the CSOs Platform in Extractive & OfD known as Green Group Forum (GGF) .

He said the WWF conducted awareness, peace and harmony campaign during 2012 riot in Mtwara apart from conducting educational seminar, workshops and conferences to share challenges and experiences among partners.

“The WWF-TCO facilitated submissions of concept papers that led to review of petroleum policies and legislations,” he said.