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Country Info > Tanzania > Visa Info > Tourism > Govt & Economy > Human & Natural Resources > National Parks >History, People & Culture

Tanzania Human & Natural Resources

The lives of all Tanzanians depend on natural resources for both the present and future generations. The country is endowed with significant natural resources, which include forests and woodlands, wild animals, rivers, lakes and wetlands. All these resources play big roles to the economy is terms of the social and economic goods and services, which they provide. The depletion of these resources will positively undermine the ecological sustainability of economic activity.

The potentials and different roles played by these sectors to the economy are outlined under specific sub sectors i.e. Fisheries, forests, wildlife, beekeeping and tourism.

Sectoral Development

Tanzania is a coastal state endowed with fishery resources. She has both marine and inland fisheries potential. The marine water covers 64,000 square kilometres which includes the Indian Ocean and the Exclusive Economic Zone which covers 223,000 square kilometres. The fresh water includes the riparian shared waters of East African great lakes namely Lake Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa.

The country has also other small natural lakes, man made lakes, river systems and many wetlands with fish potential. All these water cover 58,000 square kilometres. The country has coastline of about 800 km declared as its Exclusion Economic Zone but has not yet exploited. The present annual fish catch is about 350,000 metric tons.

The number of fishermen who are permanently employed is 80,000 and few others obtain their livelihood from the sector by being employed in the fishing and fishery related activities. The artisanal fishermen produce about 90% of the total fish catch in the country; only 10% is derived from industrial fishing. Most of the fish caught is consumed locally while Nile perch; sardines and prawns are for exports.

It contributes about one third of the animal protein or 30% of the total intake to the Tanzanian population. It is a source of employment, livelihood to the people, recreation, and tourism in order to generate foreign exchange. The contribution of the sector to GDP for the past five years has been staggering between 1.6 and 3.1%.

Tanzania has about 33.5 million hectares of forests and woodlands. Out of this total area, almost two thirds consists of woodlands on public lands which lack proper management. About 13 million hectares of this total forest area have been gazetted as forest reserves. Over 80,000 hectares of the gazetted area is under plantation forestry and about 1.6 million hectares are under water catchment management.

The forests offer habitat for wildlife, beekeeping unique natural ecosystems and genetic resources. Also bioenergy is the main sources of fuel for rural population and accounts for 92% of the total energy consumption in the country. However, it is estimated that the sector's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is between 2.3% and 10% of the country's registered exports. This contribution is underestimated because of unrecorded consumption of woodfuels, bee products, catchment and environmental values and other forest products.

The value of the Tanzanian forests is high due to the high potential for royalty collection which increase revenues to the country, exports and tourism earnings as well as the recycling and fixing of carbon dioxide and conservation of globally important biodiversity. The sector also provides 730,000 person - years of employment who are engaged in various forest related activities. The real contribution is under estimated due to unrecorded labour in the collection of woodfuels and other forest related products consumed by households. The wood industry accounts for about half of the sector is recorded contribution to GDP. The other half is contributed by non-wood products and services.

Despite all the importance and roles played by the forest resources to the economy, there are a number of problems faced which hamper the development of the sector and thus the under estimation of contribution to the economy. The various problems include among others deforestation, inadequate forestry extension services, inefficiency wood based industries and poor infrastructural facilities. Others are outdated legislation, fragmented administration at all levels between the centre and the local levels, lack of participation of various stakeholders in the management of the resources and poor resource databases, outdated and non existence of management plans for efficient resource use.


Products and Potentials of the Sector

The network of protected areas which are devoted to wildlife conservation are the major country is utilization industry. The forms of wildlife utilization practiced in Tanzania are game viewing which are potential earners of local and foreign exchange earnings and employment as they provide tourist attractions. Others are tourist hunting; resident hunting, ranching and farming. Game trophies and live birds are also exported which generate export earnings.

Furthermore, the sector employs about 2282 people who are permanent and about 2046 are employed on temporary basis (tour guides and porters). The communities living adjacent to protected areas do benefit through hunting will animals for game meat and get support of services from the private companies operating nearby and the government institutions related to wildlife sector.

On the other land, the sector is constrained by illegal hunting (poaching) especially of the endangered species like elephants, competition with other land users, lack of public awareness of wildlife importance, lack of baseline data and information, inadequate rural user rights to the community and limited capacity in terms of budgetary allocation and human resources.

Wildlife Resources
Tanzania has a rich and diverse spectrum of fauna and flora including a wide variety of endemic species and sub-species. The biological diversity and degree of endemism consist of primates, (20 species and 4 endemic), antelopes (34 species and 2 endemic) fish (with many endemic in Lake Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa and other small lakes and rivers), reptiles (290 species and 75 endemic), amphibians (40 endemic) invertebrates and plants caround 11,000 species including many endemic). Besides these, Tanzania possesses important populations of species that are threatened but widespread across Africa.

Furthermore in terms of its habitats various grasslands and open woodlands of the Serengeti and Maasai Steppe in the north-west and north-east of Tanzania support some of the greatest concentration of large mammals in the world.

The wildlife of Tanzania is a unique natural heritage and resource that is of great importance both nationally and globally. Tanzania has 19% of her surface area devoted to wildlife in protected areas where no human settlement is allowed and 9% wildlife co-exists with humans.

The Wildlife Policy

The wildlife conservation Act is for the protection, conservation, development, regulation and control of fauna and flora. Grazing livestock in game reserves is prohibited under the act.The aim of policy and Regulatory Framework is to involve a broader section of society in wildlife conservation particularly the rural communities and the private sector.

Policy Objectives:

  • To maintain the great biological diversity endowment which constitutes an important economic base to the nation.
  • To broaden the scope of players in the interpretation and implementation of the policy.
  • To increase the sectoral contribution to the Gross Domestic Product from 2% to 5%.
  • To enhance wildlife protection, utilization, management and development of protected areas and international cooperation.
  • To stimulate and guide the local communities and the private sector by administering, regulating and management of the wildlife resource.

The main strategy to implement the policy is to prevent illegal use of wildlife throughout the country; to create an enabling environment which ensures sustainable wildlife schemes directly benefiting local communities, through retaining sufficient revenues from wildlife utilization in protected areas for management and development purposes, and cooperate with neighboring countries in the conservation of transboundary ecosystems.


The wildlife sector mandate is sustainable utilization of the wildlife resources. Antipoaching activities have been intensified resulting in the decrease of poaching incidences. The wildlife policy and legislation focuses on peoples' participation in the conservation and protection of the resources. The policy has facilitated improvement in performance of the sector in attaining the overall goal of effective conservation and sustainable utilization of the wildlife resources. Communities living adjacent to the protected areas share benefits in the form of social and economic infrastructure support.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority:

  • It covers 8,300 square km. It has a finest blend of landscapes wildlife, people and archaeological sites in Africa. It is also a pioneer of experimenting the multiple land use.
  • A parastatal responsible for maintaining the coexistence of human and wildlife in a natural and traditional setting.
  • Conserves the biological diversity and ecological integrity of the Serengeti eco-system and Ngorongoro highlands.
  • Conserves the area's internationally significant palaetological and archaeological sites and resources.
  • Maintains and promote those values for which the areas is designated as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.

A research institute on wildlife and wildlife diseases:

  • Collects, stores and disseminate wildlife research findings and advices on sustainable development of the wildlife resources and advice stakeholders accordingly.
  • Coordinates research activities of foreign researchers in collaboration with the Commission for Science and Technology.

College of African Wildlife Management conducts training for technical wildlife managers for most of the English speaking African countries.

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