Experiences in Forest Landscape Restoration: Lessons learnt from the East Usambara Landscape in Tanzania

Posted on May, 20 2019

Forest Landscape Restoration can contribute to improving livelihoods, protecting food crops, securing key habitats for animal species and reducing carbon emissions.
The coastal and sub-montane forest of Eastern Africa is ranked as one of the world's most endangered biodiversity hotspots. The East Usambara landscape represents one of the larger forest blocks within this hotspot, and contains species such as the critically-endangered long-billed tailorbird and the endangered Usambara weaver.

Approximately 135,000 people distributed across 35 villages live in this landscape. They depend directly on the ecosystem goods and services provided by the forest, including provision of medicinal plants, food, construction material and importantly, regulation and protection of water sources.  

Starting in 2004 and for ten years, through three consecutive project phases, WWF and local partner, Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) conducted a forest landscape restoration (FLR) project to prevent the loss of globally important biodiversity values, improve the livelihoods of the local population and restore and maintain the multiple functions of forests in the East Usambara Mountains.

Through creation of village land forest reserves (VLFRs) and and alternative income generating activities such as butterfly farming, fish farming and agroforestry, communities were able to generate new sources of revenue while protecting their forests. 

In the duration of the project, forest clearance went down by 88 per cent and communities became more actively involved in preserving the forest. The report highlights the lessons learnt from 10 years in the East Usambara Landscape that can be applied for future restoration projects in Tanzania and beyond.