A Vision for Sustainability in Tanzania

During a recent meeting convened in southern Tanzania by The Forests Dialogue, a Yale-based program, a range of stakeholders discussed their visions of what a sustainable and thriving landscape looks like.
Southern Tanzania is considered the breadbasket of the country due to its concentrated agricultural activities, ample freshwater sources, and soil productivity. But increases in farming, forestry, grazing, and commercial activities are intensifying pressure on the land and its resources.
An ongoing initiative led by The Forests Dialogue (TFD), a Yale-based program, aims to convene diverse stakeholders in the region in a Land Use Dialogue (LUD) focused on sustainable land and resource management.
During a recent three-day LUD meeting a range of stakeholders, including government leaders, private companies and smallholder farmers, discussed their visions of what a sustainable and thriving landscape looks like. After two days of field visits and a daylong plenary dialogue participants identified activities already taking place that support that vision — as well as obstacles that stand in the way.
Their findings are summarized in a recently published report, “Tanzania Land Use Dialogue (LUD) Sustainable Landscape Planning in the Ihemi Cluster.” The report outlines a way forward through focusing on seven key issues:
  • Enhancing inclusivity
  • Initiating public private partnership processes
  • Focusing on landscape-scale planning
  • Creating synergy with other platforms
  • Building education and awareness
  • Using maps and models in monitoring and evaluation
  • Ensuring individual growth relates to landscape growth
Within each key issue participants identified actions to address or advance the cause and actors who are necessary to its success.
Present at the dialogue were representatives of relevant district offices, the regional secretariat, National Land Use Planning Commission, environmental NGOs active in the region, villages engaging in the Village Land Use Planning process, pastoralists and the private sector.
Participants visited the villages of Kihesa Mgagao and Mawambala. Afterward, they reflected on the need for a comprehensive land use plan that moves beyond land titling as a conservation strategy but is more focused on landscapes and biodiversity issues.
And they examined the Village Land Use Plan (VLUP), a tool introduced by the government as a mechanism to achieve sustainable economic development at the village level. 
“During the field visits we heard from community members the value of being included in the VLUP process. Yet, the VLUP should go a step further to ensure that communities are included in environmental initiatives and development in the wider landscape,” said Mary Ndaro, a program coordinator for CARE International and an Ihemi LUD co-chair. “The report identifies steps to make development inclusive and accessible at the individual level which can’t be ignored.”
For their discussion, the participants used the Land Use Dialogue framework to gather knowledge and lead processes that enable responsible business and investment, improved governance and inclusive development in landscapes. 
“The Land Use Dialogue platform has representation from not only different sectors but also different scales of land use decision making in the country,” says Jennifer Baarn, deputy CEO of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and LUD co-chair. “Together, through dialogue, we form a picture of what is going on and how to move forward in inclusive green growth.”
The LUD in Ihemi is part of a multi-national LUD initiative led by The Forests Dialogue, which includes a LUD platform in Brazil and new initiatives in Uganda, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The Land Use Dialogue model is locally driven, with stakeholders active in the landscape identifying key priorities and next steps,” said Gary Dunning, executive director of The Forests Dialogue. “Yet there are also learnings across landscapes as actors from other LUD platforms attend, reflect on differences and establish best practices. This forms a community of practice of actors implementing a landscape approach on the ground.”
“The National Land Use Planning Commission is focused on supporting sustainable and productive land use practices from the village to the landscape and to the national level,” said Stephen Nindi, Director General of the National Land Use Planning Commission, Tanzania. “The key issue and learnings in this report reflect the outcomes of a process we are actively participating in and following as recommendations emerge.”
“The Dialogue opened our minds to the importance of land use plans for ecosystems management and economic development,” says Michael Nkonu, LUD co-chair from IUCN. “However, it has also enabled stakeholders to identify challenges and key flaws such as poor consideration of biodiversity maps and lack of landscape approach to village land management initiatives.
“The next step,” he said, “is how different actors collaborate to fix these challenges and ensure Land Use Plans are supporting greater landscape management and economic development in Tanzania.” 

View the report and learn more about the Land Use Dialogue in Ihemi.
PUBLISHED: October 26, 2017
Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles posted prior to July 1, 2020, refer to the School's name at that time.