Facilitating the development of inclusive, competitive and resilient business models in wood product markets, and supporting a conducive enabling environment through engagement with public and private actors.
Previous underinvestment in government plantations has led to a decline in wood supply from conventional sources such as Sao Hill, leading to a growing role for the private sector in Tanzanian forestry. However, as large companies struggle to secure land for industrial-scale plantations, attention has increasingly turned to small-scale tree growers, pushing up prices for small woodlot produce, and leading to a boom in small-scale planting in the mid-2000s. As such, large volumes of relatively low-quality, small-diameter wood from small, disparate woodlots – and often inexperienced farmers – is now approaching the market.
However, wood product markets and government policy have not yet adjusted to these trends. On the markets side, processors who have historically relied upon relatively large-diameter logs from government forests are struggling to maintain competitiveness, whilst investors who are able to absorb and add value to small woodlot produce are still relatively scarce. On the policy side, there is low recognition and few initiatives to support the nascent small-scale forest industry.
The Trust is working to improve short-term income generating gains to small farmers at harvest, improved collaboration and better-informed decision making within wood product value chains, and sector insight towards longer-term policy and planning.
FDT’s strategy is built upon the understanding that small growers will reap the greatest benefits when they are well-integrated in competitive, resilient wood product markets, supported by a conducive enabling environment. To this end, the Trust is currently conducting research on wood product market systems, seeking to better understand the current strengths and weaknesses of various wood value chains, and to develop industry forecasts built on a robust evidence base. Such insights serve to:
a) Strengthen the basis of decision making by sector actors (both public and private);
b) Inform strategic decision making in other areas of the Trust’s work (i.e. estimating the nature of future market demand helps to inform species choice in the tree improvement programme); and
c) Identify opportunities for new FDT interventions seeking to strengthen market systems and the enabling environment.
FDT also works closely with the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, as well as a range of public forestry institutions in Tanzania, in order to collaboratively nurture a conducive enabling environment within which commercial forestry can flourish.
Specific current areas of focus include:
- Small grower marketing – Seeking ways to strengthen small grower engagement in wood product value chains, through, e.g., more efficient woodlot valuation, harvesting, coordination, aggregation and transportation. Seeking also to promote new technologies that better suited to extracting value from small woodlot produce.
- Industry coordination – Seeking value chain efficiencies through improved coordination of key actors, through, e.g., improved collaboration and communication between actors, improved spatial intelligence on raw material supply, improved regulation and standards, increased responsiveness to end-user needs, etc.
- Policy and planning – Working with key ministries and public institutions to strengthen the enabling environment. In 2014, FDT provided input into the development of the new national forest policy, and will continue to work with the relevant institutions during its implementation and rollout.
- Remote sensing – FDT is currently running two pilot remote sensing studies, seeking to develop cost-effective tools for improved spatial forestry intelligence based upon satellite imagery. A preliminary map has been produced showing the distribution of pine and eucalyptus in the Southern Highlands.