The coastal forests of Tanzania are a global hotspot for biodiversity. Spanning over one third of the country, they provide vital ecosystems for over 700 endemic and near-endemic plant and animal species and are critical to the livelihoods of rural communities.
The Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa rank among the top 10 global endangered forests, according to Conservation International. In Tanzania, legislation exists to protect forests and to support sustainable development. Under the Forest Act (2002), participatory forest management (PFM) empowers communities to own or manage local forest reserves.
Biodiversity and endemic species
Many of the species endemic to Tanzania’s coastal forests are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The main threats to species are habitat degradation and loss.
The forests provide vital resources to local communities, from water for agriculture to wood for fuel. Tanzania’s forest protection legislation is founded on participatory forest management, recognising the importance of working with local people to protect livelihoods and natural resources.
Threats to coastal forests
Coastal forests face growing threats from illegal logging for the timber and charcoal trades. Unregulated timber and charcoal extraction degrade forests, reduce biodiversity, exacerbate poverty levels, and emit carbon.