Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 10 April 2008—Seventeen non-governmental organisations today signed a milestone agreement to launch the Mama Misitu campaign, aimed at tackling corruption and mismanagement in Tanzania’s forestry sector.
Professor Wangari Maathai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace, formally launched the campaign in Dar es Salaam.
Mama Misitu was initiated following the release of TRAFFIC’s seminal report into the forestry sector in Tanzania last May, which provided evidence that illegal logging and weak forest governance was costing Tanzania billions of shillings in lost revenue each year as well as threatening some of the nation’s unique biodiversity.
Losses of up to USD58 million were estimated in 2005 alone—the equivalent of building 1,933 primary schools—and a culture of corruption has plagued the natural resources sector made worse by low awareness at many levels of the relevant legal and policy tools.
“TRAFFIC is delighted to be part of the Mama Misitu campaign, which we are confident will bring about concerted action from civil society and others, leading to better transparency and governence in the forestry sector and a fairer sharing of the benefits that sustainable logging brings,” said Simon Milledge, Deputy Director of TRAFFIC East and Southern Africa, and a lead author of Forestry, governance and national development: Lessons learned from a logging boom in southern Tanzania.
“It is heartening to see the forestry governance issues highlighted in the TRAFFIC report being acted upon,” he added.
The Mama Misitu campaign will work with people at all levels of society to ensure that forests are managed sustainably for the benefit of present and future generations.
“Now is the time for action”, declared Cassian Sianga of the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum.
“We have the information, we know what needs to be done and through the Mama Misitu campaign we plan to make real changes in how Tanzania’s forests are managed.
“Business as usual is no longer acceptable. It is robbing our nation of desperately needed resources,” Cassian Sianga, Tanzania Natural Resources ForumThe Mama Misitu campaign will provide communities, government officers and the private sector with information about good forest management according to Tanzanian and international policy. The campaign will focus on issues relating to timber harvesting and village involvement in forest management and will focus on areas where illegal logging has been most destructive including the Coast, Morogoro, Lindi, Tanga, Ruvuma and Mtwara Regions.
Mama Misitu is Kiswahili and literally translates as “woman of forests”. The name reflects the life-supporting role of forests and the need for everybody to play a role in nurturing them for the benefit of future generations.
Project partners in Mama Misitu are: Africare, CARE-Tanzania, Farm Africa, Femina HIP, JET, IUCN, LEAT, Mpingo Conservation Project, Policy Forum, Tanzania Association of Foresters, Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, Tanzania Natural Resources Forum, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the WWF Tanzania Programme Office. The initiative is facilitated by the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum and is financed by the Government of Finland.
Download here TRAFFIC’s report into illegal logging: Forestry, governance and national development: Lessons learned from a logging boom in southern Tanzania and the report's Executive summary.