Deforestation in Tanzania could cost the national economy 5,588 billion Tanzanian Shillings (US$3.5 billion) by 2033. Investing in reforestation, forest conservation and agroforestry can reverse that drain on the economy and the nation.
Forest ecosystems in the transition to a green economy and the role of REDD+ in the United Republic of Tanzania took into account the market value of timber resources as benefits that arise from deforestation, and costs in terms of lost timber forest products in the future, as well as other forest ecosystem services that will be lost as a result of deforestation.
“Forests provide a whole host of ecosystem services to national economies that are not captured in national development planning, and this latest assessment, from Tanzania, provides further evidence of the economic damage that can be wrought when we do not appreciate the full value of nature,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
“Implementation of REDD+, which goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation to include the role of conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, can be an important vehicle for Tanzania, and other nations, to transition to an economic model based on reduced deforestation and increased investment in the sustainable use of forest resources and significant benefits for local communities.”
For example, more irregular water availability due to deforestation can impact agricultural output or lead to higher costs for hydroelectric utilities. These costs are not incurred by the forestry sector, but in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures of other sectors. Other services, such as biodiversity, are currently not included in national accounts.
The Tanzania Forest Services prepared the report in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) under the UN-REDD Programme to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, and the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa. The group based its analyses on the annual deforestation rate of 372,816 hectares per year between 1995 and 2010, an estimate provided by the National Forest Monitoring and Assessment 2014.
The report provides an economic rationale for Tanzania to invest in more sustainable use and conservation of its forest assets by showing that the one-off financial benefits of deforestation, mainly from the sale of timber, are outstripped by the long-term losses. Some of these losses are compatible with the SNA and can be reflected in GDP.
This presents a case for the government to tackle the direct and underlying drivers of deforestation, and transit to an economic model that stimulates sustainable use and conservation of forest ecosystems by implementing REDD+.
The Tanzanian report is part of a range of activities by the UN-REDD Programme to support Tanzania by enabling it to build the economic case for sustainable management and conservation of the country’s forest ecosystems as part of REDD+ implementation. The analysis provides insights and recommendations for government authorities on how to tackle the rising costs of deforestation, including:
Similar national forest valuation studies have been completed for Kenya, Panama and Zambia, and UNEP is currently working with the Governments of Nepal, Ethiopia and Indonesia. A synthesis combining the findings of this forest conservation work work will be released soon.
To help address these problems, Sacred Seedlings works with NGO’s and community stakeholders across Tanzania and East Africa. We have 15 projects that are ready to make an immediate impact on many levels. We seek partners, sponsors, donors, grants, volunteers and in-kind donations.