Community Conservation Banks Change Community Perceptions Towards Forest Management
Improving livelihoods particularly income of local communities residing adjacent to protected areas is a key to achieve environmental sustainability.
The need for charcoal, firewood, timber, building poles and land continues to put pressure on forest resources in this area, and these pressures are especially intense close to urban areas.
‘’For us Forest is the source of our income. We sell firewood, timber, charcoal and get money for our survival’’'. said amina said, a resident of Rufiji
- Extending the Coastal Forest Protected Area subsystem in Tanzania Project is a four year project (2011-2014) focusing on Zanzibar and three priority landscapes in the south-eastern part of the Mainland which are Lindi, Kilwa and Rufiji
In addressing this, WWF Tanzania through a project funded by GEF/UNDP on “Extending the Coastal Forest Sub-system in Tanzania” in Rufiji, Kilwa and Lindi landscapes is advocating and training local communities on various Income Generating Activities (IGAs) to support their livelihood and increase their incomes.
An innovative model through savings and credits, popularly known as Conservation Community Bank (COCOBA) and beekeeping are the two initiatives undertaken by the project.
To date the project has been supporting livelihood initiatives to more than 300 people (30% being women and youth) in 24 beekeeping groups in over 10 villages. The project organizes trainings in collaboration with District staff (Beekeeping and Community Development Officers) and now over 1138 hives are in place and more than fifteen percent (15%) have been colonized.
Conservation Community Bank (COCOBA) trainings are also being conducted in all 3 landscapes to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of women, men and youth. There are currently 17 beekeeping groups with around 242 members (female 152 male 90) who participate in the COCOBA trainings and are continuing with saving and lending operations (i.e. shares, welfare funds mobilization) on weekly basis. By end of June COCOBA members in the project area managed to deposit a total amount of Tsh. 6,969,900 (USD 4356.18) as their shares and other income in their credit kit.
These initiatives have increased incomes of local communities particularly women who form biggest part rural population. They have also improved living standards of local communities.
‘’Through COCOBA trainings we have managed to buy iron sheets for our houses and changed roofing of our houses from grass roofing to iron sheet roofing’’, says Mzee Selemani Omari-Group Chairman of COCOBA group in Ndawa village in Lindi Landscape.
In Zanzibar these livelihood initiatives have benefited 1214 people (359 Male and 359 Female) increasing incomes of both men and women living adjacent to forests reserves. These initiatives have reduced the pressure of local communities invading forests in search for forest products as they are now engaged in income generating activities supported by the project.
The “Extending the Coastal Forest Sub-system in Tanzania” project works with Government, largely through forest sector institutions, WWF and other NGOs in order to strengthen overall conservation and management of the coastal forests of Tanzania.