Box G
REDD+ in Tanzania: The national context

Demetrius L Kweka, Sheryl Quail and Jessica Campese

REDD+ importance

Tanzania has the most subnational REDD+ initiatives of any country in Africa outside of the Congo Basin, many financed by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI). This makes sense, given the country’s large forest estate (35 million ha) (URT 1998); forest law allowing community forest ownership; long history of PFM (Zahabu 2008; URT n.d.); and alarming 1.1% deforestation rate – one of the 10 highest rates of net national forest area loss in the world (FAO 2010a). The annual per capita value of subsistence use of forest products in rural areas has been estimated as USD 25–50, with forests providing 90% of energy supplies, 75% of building materials and 100% of traditional medicines (World Bank 2010 in URT 2013b). Thus, Tanzania is well placed to demonstrate how CFM and REDD+ can be integrated to enhance PFM by giving local communities another income stream from their forests (Burgess et al. 2010; Blomley et al. 2011).

REDD+ readiness

National REDD+ readiness efforts and the policy process started in 2008 with NICFI. The Department of Environment (DoE) under the Vice President’s Office oversees all climate change issues, while the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) leads MRV components (FAO 2010b). The DoE formed a national climate change steering committee (to report on deforestation and degradation indicators) and established a climate change focal point in each ministry to oversee sectoral coordination. A national REDD+ task force drafted the national REDD+ framework (URT 2009b), a national REDD+ strategy (URT 2013b) and subsequent REDD+ action plans (URT 2013a) to guide the implementation of REDD+.

Funds from the Governments of Norway (USD 58 million) and Finland (USD 5.9 million) for the first phase of REDD+ were focused on MRV capacity, national governance and institutional legal frameworks, benefit-sharing mechanisms, national standards for safeguards, strengthened stakeholder support and implementation of demonstration projects (NORAD 2014a). However, despite initial enthusiasm and fanfare, readiness efforts slowed by 2013 due to delays and political challenges in developing the national framework, the ongoing stalemate in international climate agreements, and the drawn-out technical nature of the REDD+ process that was not anticipated at the beginning (NORAD 2014b). Further, the goals of REDD+ are being overshadowed by other well-funded donor initiatives that aim to develop both small- and large-scale commercial agriculture and may encourage expansion of agriculture into forests (Hertel et al. 2014).

REDD+ subnational pilot initiatives

Concerns over the implementation capacity and fiduciary risk of the Tanzanian Government led Norway to channel most REDD+ funds to academic and civil society organizations (CSOs). Coupled with pressure to produce rapid results, this left the government reluctant to develop the institutional arrangements necessary to see REDD+ beyond the pilot phase, in particular for finance and benefit-sharing mechanisms (NORAD 2014b). This has created challenges for the nine subnational initiatives funded by Norway through a REDD+ fund managed by the RNE (NORAD 2014a). While these pilots have had important successes (as described in individual chapters), their implementation has uncovered substantial challenges, including: remaining uncertainties about land tenure,1 carbon rights and benefit-sharing rules; insufficient technical skills for MRV; and the difficulty of effectively addressing the underlying deforestation drivers.

The current land, forest and carbon tenure arrangements simultaneously represent some of the most promising and most concerning issues for REDD+ in Tanzania. REDD+ aims to benefit the communities and individuals that bear the costs and do the work of reducing deforestation. In practice, communities with secure, recognized tenure over their land are likely to realize substantial benefits if that tenure extends to carbon. However, the Tanzania National REDD+ Strategy does not explicitly tie carbon ownership to land or forest tenure “leaving communities and other forest owners vulnerable to losing out on rightful benefits, or possibly even compromising their current legal right to use and manage recognized forest land” (TFCG and MJUMITA 2012, 2). At the same time, communities and individuals who rely upon forests to which access is restricted for REDD+ will bear costs, regardless of their tenure status. Given the technical and financial barriers to registering land and forests, such as the cost of land surveying (Barnes and Quail 2011), most villages remain unregistered. REDD+ is unlikely to benefit, and is likely to burden, local forest communities that do not obtain legal recognition of their land and forest tenure. As a result of remaining tenure uncertainties, most of the REDD+ proponents had to address boundary conflict resolution, while others facilitated acquisition of village title, effectively absorbing the cost and responsibility of what previously fell under the authority of the government.

Ensuring equitable and transparent distribution of benefits to communities whose livelihoods are intimately bound to forest resources is crucial. Within the context of REDD+, various distribution systems have been proposed by civil society and government agencies, including national, project and nested/hybrid approaches. In Tanzania, a national approach could entail linking international markets/exchanges to a national fund that could, in turn, either link directly to local communities or to district governments who would then disburse funds to villages. A framework for a National Carbon Trust Fund has been drafted but not implemented as of 2014. Many CSOs advocate for a nested approach whereby a national payment and carbon monitoring system coexist with projects implemented by intermediary organizations that facilitate direct linkages between carbon markets and forest communities (TFWG 2010). Past experience shows that government initiatives often fail to deliver on benefit sharing with local communities, e.g. under joint forest management, hunting blocks and tourism (Milledge et al. 2007; URT 2009b). This has led to questions about the efficacy of a strictly national fund approach (NORAD 2014b), although a strictly project-based approach suffers from lack of economies of scale and possible higher implementation and transaction costs (Olsen and Bishop 2009; MNRT and UN-REDD 2012). Under a nested approach, those costs could be reduced if the national government assumed technical responsibilities for MRV, baselines and other activities. Subnational initiatives can give communities the autonomy to choose arrangements for distributing funds within villages that work best for them.

The subnational pilot initiatives funded by RNE are coming to an end, and none have sold carbon in any market. The largest of these initiatives (led by the Community Forest Conservation Network of Tanzania [MJUMITA]2 and the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group), representing almost half of the forests in Tanzania’s REDD+ intervention areas, has achieved emissions reductions of 30% and identified interested buyers. Some initiatives exhausted funds before accomplishing their objectives (e.g. in Kigoma and Shinyanga), while others are struggling with the long process of meeting the requirements for selling carbon (e.g. Mpingo and Zanzibar) and/or are suffering a shortage of technical capacity to push the process forward.

REDD+ future

Compared to other countries funded by NICFI, Tanzania’s progress has been slow, but a reference emissions baseline is expected to be completed by 2015, and Norway has signaled that it will release funds (albeit reduced) for Phase 2 in 2016. A performance-based approach has been decided on, and the newly built National Carbon Monitoring Centre at Sokoine University of Agriculture will continue research on the emissions baseline and MRV system. This is necessary groundwork for any REDD+ finance and benefit-sharing system, which are key remaining uncertainties in Tanzania.

1 Although national laws support community forest tenure, its implementation on the ground faces barriers including poorly done land-use plans and unregistered village lands.

2 MJUMITA is the abbreviation for the locally known name: Mtandao wa Jamii wa Usimamizi wa Misitu Tanzania.