By 2025 Tanzania’s demand for industrial wood will be ~3.7m m3, but existing plantations will only be able to supply ~1.1m m3. Plantations run by government and several large-scale wood growers make up just 0.3% of the total forest area of 48.1m ha, requiring new forest resources to be created in order not to compound existing pressure on indigenous forests (MNRT 2015).
Beyond indigenous forests, small private growers have emerged as the single largest source of supply, so building a stronger position for them presents a huge opportunity to address the gap between supply and demand, while simultaneously increasing incomes and reducing poverty.
Strengthening the position of smallholders alone will not be sufficient to create a competitive sector with the resilience to withstand future challenges and the dynamism to react to future opportunities. There are many other constraints in the sector that need to be addressed, including poor wood utilisation rates of ~30% and a restricted genetic resource base, leading to a lack of site-species matching which limits both yields and the potential commercial uses of timber.
Given the long-term nature of the challenges and interventions required in the Tanzanian forestry sector – plus the need for all stakeholders to collaborate on solutions – in 2013 the Gatsby Charitable Foundation established the Forestry Development Trust as an independent institution with a long term vision.