During the 1980s the central government policy of collectivism ('ujamaa') in Tanzania waned. New opportunities for private tree holdings and tree nurseries proved to be an important spur to rural re-afforestation. The success of the CARITAS tree-planting project evaluated in this paper can be attributed to its flexibility, realism and emphasis on local skills and materials rather than external technical inputs. Seedling propagation was demystified and adapted to local conditions. The project encouraged small, individually owned nurseries, thereby avoiding high transport and maintenance costs while fostering sustainability and security of tenure.