The depletion of forests is of great concern for the environment and development in many developing countries, Africa in particular. Tanzanians, like the majority of Africans, have always been and continue to be heavily reliant on charcoal and firewood as their main source of cooking fuels. This dependency has seen vast areas of natural forest decimated. Hardwood trees, some older than 50 years, are being cut down, turned into charcoal illegally, and sold at next to nothing to large, black-market trading syndicates in the major cities. With the projected population and urbanization increases this dependency will only increase.
An estimated 400,000 hectares are being cut down every year in Tanzania – a completely unsustainable rate of deforestation. If nothing is done to curb these immense and growing levels of deforestation, it is estimated that Tanzania may lose an area of forest the size of Ireland by 2030. These extreme topographical changes are considered one of the leading causes of climate change. Unsustainable use of forests leads to land degradation – manifested by soil erosion, desertification, destroyed watershed and general loss of productive potential in rural areas. Considering the role played by the forests, it is obvious that deforestation has serious economic and ecological consequences and it is often the most underprivileged who bear the greatest burden of climate change. Some of those consequences are –
- Reduced land productivity due to loss of soil fertility and inadequate or unreliable rainfall patterns.
- Scarcity of fuelwood for the poorest who cannot afford to use alternative sources of fuel. African women have been forced to walk farther for fuelwood, reducing the amount of time they would spend on other productive activities.
- Loss of livelihood options among the poor people who rely on forests for food, medicine, fuelwood, building poles and furniture.
- Reduction or loss of tourism potentials due to destruction of principle resources including charismatic wildlife species and attractive sites.
- Increased human–wildlife conflicts due to proximity and overlap in the use of space between wildlife, livestock and humans.
- Increased risk of inbreeding depression among the migratory species due to isolation of protected areas caused by blockage of wildlife corridors.
- Increased emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global warming
- Loss of forests ecological role as carbon sinks.
- Reduced water quantity and quality for domestic and industrial use in big cities such as Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Iringa, Coast and Tanga.
Until now, there has not been an affordable, large scale and sustainable fuel source to supplant the illegal charcoal and firewood used by the over 90% of Tanzania’s population without access to viable alternatives. Mkaa Endelevu is that alternative. Using our innovative and environmentally friendly process of converting bio-waste into charcoal Mkaa Endelevu has provided a solution to Tanzania’s illegal charcoal problem and taken the first step in stopping the soon to be irreversible consequences of deforestation.
Trends of population growth in Tanzania, 1967—2030
URT (United Republic of Tanzania). National Population Projections. National Bureau of Statistics. February 2018. * Projections
Trends of various land cover in Tanzania, 1990–2010