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Lessons on accountability in forest governance: the Mama Misitu Campaign against illegal logging in Tanzania

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Pilar Domingo, Daniel Harris

In early 2007, the Tanzanian press unleashed a national debate about the costs of illegal logging in the country, by reporting the findings of a report published by TRAFFIC: Forestry, governance and national development: lessons learnt from a logging boom in southern Tanzania. This revealed some of the true costs of illegal logging (Box 1).

The report’s authors tackled head-on the controversial political realities that stand in the way of transparent and environmentally sustainable forest resource governance. They also recommended actions to improve outreach and advocacy, monitoring and transparency, and to promote better forest management practices. While there was significant resistance to the initial publication of the report, it could not be ignored once it entered the public domain, as it had been backed by the government and foreign donors, and was published with the support of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

The TRAFFIC report prompted a collective and rapid response by a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) from the Tanzania Forestry Working Group (TFWG) to initiate the Mama Misitu (‘Mother Forests’) Campaign (MMC) to promote better forest governance. The campaign is coordinated by the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF).

This Project Briefing examines the experience and lessons of the MMC, drawing on findings from a research project undertaken in 2010 jointly by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the TNRF.

Pilar Domingo, Daniel Harris, Cassian Sianga, Enock Chengullah and Calyst Basil Kavishe