It is no longer debated that the world climate is still changing fast and is the most pressing issues of this generation, which cause different impacts on human beings as well as its surroundings. Increasing regional concentrations of aerosol particulates and massive consumption of carbon reservoirs which produce green house gases emissions particularly carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been identified as the key sources of climate change happening today all over the world.
Forest as one of the carbon reservoirs resources play important role in atmospheric carbon dioxide reduction (carbon sinks) hence contributing significantly in climate change mitigation, which have brought several impacts in different sectors within the country. Therefore this article tends to examine both direct and indirect impacts of climate changes in Tanzania and analyses the concept of Reducing Emission from Forest Degradation and Deforestation (REDD) as one of the mitigatory measures to address such a problem in Tanzania. It has been estimated only deforestation accounts for around 15% the emissions of carbon dioxide directly caused by human activities. A country lost about 412,000 ha per annum of the forests due to deforestation. In terms of degradation it is estimated that over 500,000 hectors of forests and woodlands especially in general lands are degraded annually. Several researches carried out reveal that deforestation is much linked with poverty in all of its multiple dimensions contributed to human disturbances inside the forests reserves.
Such scenarios have been linked directly with the climate change happening today. The average global surface temperature has warmed 0.8°C in the past century and 0.6°C in the past three decades. Those changes have occurred rapidly and are accompanied with different impacts on the environment and economy of the country as well. Analysis of recent climate trends in Tanzania reveals that climate change poses significant risks to the environment. Averaged temperature and precipitation changes over the country have been assessed using different outputs for about a decade now, and several sectors potentially impacted by climate change have been identified. Those sectors include agriculture, forests, water resources, coastal resources, human health, as well as energy, industry and transport. Those changes have ultimately effects on food security, water availability, biodiversity, sea-level change, and human health.
Arguably one of the most widespread and potentially devastating impacts of climate change in Tanzania is changing in the frequency, intensity, and predictability of precipitation. Changes in regional precipitation affects water availability and have been observed specifically for the three major river basins: Ruvu, Pangani, and Rufiji. High temperatures and less rainfall during dry months in affect the annual flow to the River Pangani by reductions of 6-9% and to the River Ruvu by 10%. Projections of climate change suggest that Tanzania will experience warmer temperatures and a 5-20% increased rainfall from December-February and 5-10% decreased rainfall from June-August by 2050. The Pangani Basin is also fed by the glaciers of Kilimanjaro, which have been melting alarmingly fast and are estimated to disappear completely by 2015 – 2020. It is estimated 82 percent of the icecap that crowned the mountain when it was first thoroughly surveyed in 1912 is now gone. Also further dramatic disappearance of glaciers in various parts of the world has caused the Maziwe Island in Pangani district to submerge due to rise of the sea water level.
There is a strong link between climate and livelihoods; about 80% of the population of the country relies directly on agriculture of one sort or another for their livelihood. According to the World Bank Report of 2008, only 7% of the cropland was irrigated as of 2007, and the rest depending heavily on rain-fed agriculture making rural livelihoods and food security highly vulnerable to climate variability such as shifts in growing season conditions. Estimates of the effect of climate change in agricultural crops show that yield were lower a result of higher temperatures and, where applicable, decreased rainfall. Thus decrease of agricultural production potentially lead to widespread food shortages in different parts of the country. Also climate plays an important role in the geographical distribution and seasonal abundance of vector species that are responsible for the transmission of a number of human diseases. Changes in rainfall affect the presence and absence of vector- and water-borne pathogens. For example, the small changes in temperature and precipitation boost the population of disease-carrying mosquitoes and result in increased malaria epidemics in highlands of Tanzania, and much of the emergence of water-borne and food-borne diseases in Dar es salaam, half is contributed by climate changes
Also the climate change is already having an impact on the dynamics of Tanzania ecosystems and its rich biodiversity, species composition and diversity change rapidly due to individual species response to climate change conditions. It has promoted significantly alteration of biodiversity as species struggle to adapt to changing conditions, which could lead to numerous localized extinctions of some important charismatic species. One of the species affected is the African elephants (Loxodonta africana), whose breeding is year-round, but dominant males mate in the wet season and subordinate males breed in the dry season. Subsequently, change in the intensity or duration of the rainy versus drought seasons, lead to change of their relative breeding rates, hence, genetic structures in these populations.
In recognition of all those threats based on those anthropogenic activities in the context of widespread of poverty, and places a special emphasis on both short and long-term adaptation strategies in response to regional climate change. The government of Tanzania adopted the broad community-based scientific approach of Reducing Emission from Forest Degradation and Deforestation (REDD) aiming on managing forest resources on sustainable basis at the same time respond to poverty reduction and resilience of the climate change as well. REDD focus on an area covering 50,000 hectares of montane and lowland coastal forest (Miombo forest) of Eastern Arc Mountains biodiversity hotspot in Tanzania. It introduce participatory monitoring of forest status establish baselines of deforestation rates, market carbon credits, test benefit sharing mechanisms, and help to address the drivers of forests loss and degradation.
By the end of the five years the project aims to achieve a 110,000 tonnes reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and degradation, and to ensure the livelihoods of 20,000 poor people becoming beneficiaries from sustainable forest management and REDD financing.
Stephen J Nyagonde
Young Earth Scientist Network- Tanzania,
Internship WWF Tanzania Office,
Rubeho Environmental Action Project-REAP,
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG),
Rubeho, Mpwapwa, Dodoma,
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