This past month has been busy for us here at MCDI. In Tanzania, June marks the beginning of the long dry season after several months of heavy rain. This means that whilst our tree planting has been put on pause until the rains return towards the end of the year we are able to shift our focus to sustainable timber harvesting.
Our model takes a human rights-based approach to conservation, ensuring that rural indigenous communities are able to generate revenues in a sustainable and equitable way from their forests. In September 2009 we facilitated the first-ever commercial timber harvest from a village forest reserve in Tanzania, earning communities over one hundred times more per log than through traditional methods. We now have two community-owned portable sawmills, one of which is being used for the first time this year, that are transported around two districts for harvesting. In 2009 we were awarded the first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for community-managed natural forests in all of Africa – this certificate is widely acknowledged as the gold standard of sustainable forest management. Since then, we have expanded the area of forest under FSC certification to over 200,000 hectares, encompassing over half of the total area of MCDI-supported community forest.
So far, harvesting has started in Sautimoja village in Tunduru District and Mchakama village in Kilwa district, with a current total of 2500 planks of Mninga (Sautimoja) and 400 planks of Mkongo (Mchakama). After harvesting, the timber undergoes hammering and sawn timber processing before it is taken to our sustainable solar kiln which is used to dry the timber and preserve its quality.
Additionally, part of our role is to connect with buyers nationally and internationally in order to generate revenues that go back to the communities to be used for community development projects. We’re proud to say that both buyers of this specific timber harvest are Tanzanian companies who are outwardly seeking to support community-managed forests and ensure they are buying timber that is both sustainable and ethical.
This timber processed in June is just a fraction of what will be sustainably harvested throughout the year and we’ll keep you updated as it continues!