African forest communities comprise some of the poorest sectors of society found anywhere on earth – rural Tanzanian households survive on less than USD1 per day.
However, recent legislative reform in Tanzania has enabled forest communities to establish themselves as Village Land Forest Reserves (VLFR), claim logging rights and retain 100% of the revenue from timber sales, so providing an opportunity for community development through fair and ethical trade.
Sound and Fair’s Tanzanian partner, Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative (MCDI), has facilitated this process in eleven VLFRs, totaling over 100,000 hectares.
Jasper Makala, MCDI CEO, recently said:
“Through the fair trade in FSC 100% hardwoods we are starting to see the transformation of livelihoods for forest-dependent people in Tanzania, with the foundations laid for new schools, improved healthcare, clean water supplies and diversified incomes.”
However, forest communities still only receive a small fraction of the final sale price of the wood they produce – Sound and Fair aims to transform this inherently unfair dynamic through fair trade pricing and premiums.
Local incomes have already been increased 100-fold through the establishment of community forestry and over time Sound and Fair aims to further these benefits through a variety of means:
- Fair prices for log sales;
- Fair trade premiums from timber exports;
- Socio-economic benefits from a community-based sawmill employing local community members.
Long-lasting sustainable, community-based forestry management will only be achieved through this scaling up of real, tangible benefits for local people who rely on the forest for their livelihoods and who are ultimately responsible for its protection.