Data and sustainable forest management

Thursday November 7 2019

Generally the forestry resources are heavily

Generally the forestry resources are heavily human dependent natural endowment in the sense that they are sources of essential cross-cutting ecological and other socioeconomic services to other key sectors. PHOTO | FILE 

By Dr Felician Kilahama @TheCitizenTz news@thecitizen.co.tz

The Tanzania Forestry Research Institute (TAFORI) was established through the Act Number 5 of 1980.

The Institute is an important public service organization in the forestry and beekeeping sub-sector under the larger natural resources sector in Tanzania.

By then it was established to undertake research on forestry to generate data/information needed for policy formulation and/or decision making in the contexts of forestry resource contributions to sustainable development while improving the quality of services delivery to people in Tanzania and globally.

Currently, the Institute is supposed to address issues and challenges, focusing on forestry and beekeeping components with a view to providing a guidance to making well-informed decisions through scientifically generated and reliable forestry and bee resources data and/or related socio-economic information.

How does TAFORI generate useful data? Generally, it is through carrying out inquiries (socio-economic); undertaking experiments and demand driven research as well as facilitating the collection of information for the purpose of promoting forestry and beekeeping programmes, projects and activities, thereby leading to sustainable economic growth and improved livelihoods, particularly in rural areas.

Furthermore, the institute is obliged to carry out experiments related to tree planting, growth, development, conservation and use of local and foreign trees and to evaluate their suitability for adoption plus alternative uses in the wood and/or other industries in Tanzania.

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TAFORI is also required to investigate the causes including ways of controlling and preventing the occurrence of diseases and/or forest/bee resources pests for the good of forestry & bee industry in Tanzania. Generally, the forestry/bee resources are heavily human dependent natural endowment in the sense that they are sources of essential cross-cutting ecological and other socio-economic services to other key sectors like agriculture, water, food security, nutrition, energy, livestock, environment, health, education, trade and industry.

Thus, continuous research and scientific investigations are required, at all times, to provide useful data/information to various key stakeholders.

Sometimes, it is said “no data no right to speak”, which implies that the importance of forestry and beekeeping research to provide useful data for decision making and advocacy cannot be over-emphasized.

The importance of research in forestry was recognized even during the colonial era when in 1893 the Germans established a 2.5 hectare research plot in Dar es Salaam.

Through that plot, about 270 various tree species for tropical plantations, ornamental and other trees were screened and tested for their suitability and adaptation.

In 1992 a biological agricultural research station was established in Amani, Muheza District, to undertake systematic tests for indigenous tree species (Juniper and Podo) and some exotics (Cypress, Pines, Eucalypts, Teak and Black Wattle).

In the process, Tanzania established plantations using the tested species mainly Cypress, Pines, Teak and Eucalypts, which are valuable sources of wood for forest industries and woodworking enterprises and workshops.

In 1928, during the British Rule, the Amani biological agricultural research station was renamed to East African Agricultural Research Station (EAARS).

However, in 1948 it was shifted from Amani to Mguga in Kenya and transformed into the East African Agricultural and Forestry Research Organization (EAAFRO).

Furthermore, in 1950s the colonial government established the silvicultural and timber utilization research stations at Lushoto and Moshi respectively to cater for challenges specific to the country and EAAFRO focused mainly on regional matters. The operations of EAAFRO ended following the collapse of the first East African Community in 1977 hence the activities of EAAFRO were taken over by the Forest Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Land and Environment till the establishment of TAFORI by Act Number 5 of 1980.

Additionally, TAFORI, with mandate to research and coordinate other research activities related to forestry, concentrated on issues associated with forestry.

On the other hand, research in beekeeping was handled by the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) but early 2019 beekeeping research became TAFORI’s mandate hence the Institute is charged to conduct forestry and beekeeping research activities throughout the country.

The Institute, apart from having adequate human and financial resources; requires a powerful and useful corporate strategic plan for medium and long term plans. The strategic plan will be explicitly used as a tool for mobilization of required human and financial resources and as a key basis for providing links among inputs, outputs and outcomes as well as showing responsibilities of various directorates and units within the organization in achieving agreed institutional objectives.

The Institute has prepared the Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP) for 2020 to 2025 and October 28, 2019 the draft plan was presented to about 50 key stakeholders to provide some useful inputs before it is adopted for implementation.

This important meeting was facilitated by the Tanzania Forest Fund (TaFF). My gratefulness to the fund Governing Board Chairman, Professor R.C. Ishengoma, the Board of Directors and the Fund Management led by the Administrative Secretary, Dr. Tuli Msuya, for providing timely invaluable financial support without which TAFORI couldn’t have conducted the stakeholders’ meeting.

Dr Felician B. Kilahama is chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania and retired Director of Forestry and Beekeeping.

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