If at all you happen to enter the community based conserved forests, just 18 kilometers south of Babati town you will be amazed. There lies a 1000 hectare forest on a land which was bare, just ten years ago. Interestingly, the former existed indigenous Miombo type of trees has been restored.
Harra village environment committee chairperson, Anna Temba points out that the task of returning the damaged forest has never been simple. It needs a lot commitment to make it happen, keeping in mind forests are still a rare resource, competing with the growing population.
Narrating the story of success and challenges, the strong looking Anna, who seem to be in her early 60s said presently the main challenge has been illegal logging mainly by nearby community.
The village environment that consists of 16 members has however been working hard to combat the crimes been done for the forest. For example there has been a lot of by laws that are been reformed on regular basis to protect the village forest.
The vast forest area is being watched by only 8 guards , who have nothing to protect themselves than poor traditional weapons- arrows and clubs been among them.
The Harra local communities, with great commitment within their hearts have been [art of this success story. They work together to ensure they conserve this land which is earning them for the development of their village.
The task of keeping away the poachers is so difficult as we can’t predict what weapons they do possess’ said one forest guard, that it is also not easy to enter the interior of the forest as there are dangerous wild animals.
Apart from that, there still exist those members of the community who use the forest as grazing land for their cattle, a practice which impacts on soil fracturing and so vulnerable to erosion.
Analyzing the benefits they have been obtaining from the forest, the village chairperson Mustapha Mohamed said they have been able to contribute to their own social services like schools from fines and penalties
Harra villagers are also allowed to access to dry wood for energy purposes provided that they don fell alive tree. The village is also been considered for a carbon credit project that expects to take off soon.
The participatory forest management was initiated in Harra village in 2001, in a time where the whole was damaged and under central government. The procedures to involve the local community were attained after much degradation had taken place and Babati district selected to undertake a pilot study for the participatory forest management. Other villages which has successfully managed well their forests includes Hayasanda, Bereko, Harra and Duru- Aytemba.
Innocent Kisanga-YET 2011