How can the private sector and rural communities participate and benefit from forestry? How do we improve the quality of forest products and increase the employment?
These and many more questions were asked by a team of Tanzanian visitors in Finland last week. One of the visions of the visitors is to transform Tanzania from a high deforestation area to a major producer of sustainable timber and biomass energy in East Africa.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Honorable Khamis Kagasheki visited Finland with a high power team: Esther Mkwizu (chairperson of Tanzania Business Council and the board of Tanzania Forest Service), James Lembeli (MP, chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Land, Environment and Natural Resources), Juma Mgoo (CEO of the Tanzania Forest Service), Engineer Arthur Lyatuu from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals and Mr. ImaniNkuwi, assistant of the Minister.
The aim of the visit was to see how the forestry sector is organized in Finland and how sustainable forest management can be done without compromising the social and environmental values. The role of the private sector in forestry was thoroughly discussed and emphasized as 70 percent of forests in Finland are privately owned.
The Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation, Heidi Hautala emphasized in the official and informal discussions that Finland wants to support fully the transformation of forestry sector in Tanzania to a sustainable, well-governed, high employment sector, which provides products for energy, timber and nature conservation. The current joint programmes on national forest inventory, private forestry development and community-based forestry complete each other and address the main priorities of the Tanzanian forest policy.
Minister Kagasheki also gave a talk on the business opportunities in Tanzania during the Business Forum organized to attract Finnish companies to invest in Africa, and in particular to Tanzania. Opportunities are great in many areas. One of the major areas of interest is renewable energy, which is high also on the Finnish agenda. By 2020 Finland should produce 38 percent of its energy from renewable resources and biomass from wood is the major resource.
The visit was an eye-opener to the Tanzanian team and a great networking possibility between the organizations and people in Finland and Tanzania. Follow-up will be done through regular meetings between the MNRT and the Finnish Embassy in Dar es Salaam. Cooperation with the Finnish forestry organizations will be developed further also in near future.
Text: Merja Mäkelä
Photos: Pauliina Hellman