Livelihoods, such as this fisher’s, depend on mangroves.
away. “We used to designate where and how many trees could be harvested,” Salelie says. It largely worked, as the survival of large areas of mangroves in the delta shows. But he complains that his village committee, like the oth- ers in the delta, no longer has the legal power to prevent outsiders from coming in. The Tanzanian government has banned all use of mangrove products. This makes villagers and outsiders alike into outlaws. This, he says, is a mistake. With the laws policed by a Forest Service that has only five staff and a single fibreglass boat to cover the 53,000-hec - tare delta, the result is a legal vacuum. Tensions have risen. In 2019, we were working to bridge the gap between the Forest Service and the villagers, by bringing all sides to- gether to draw up a joint management plan for the delta. It will divide the delta into zones that will protect mangroves while making sure villages can use the resources and sus- tain their livelihoods. Crucially, it will put the villagers at its heart, creating a partnership in which their skills and local agency can be deployed in the name of conservation. And we want to go beyond conservation to restoration in the delta. In 2019, we began a pilot project for com- munity-based ecological mangrove restoration, digging channels to flood abandoned rice fields that have recently
No system of concrete coastal defences is as cheap or as effective as a belt of mangroves. No prawn pond is as productive as the mangroves that they often replace. No human-made fish nursery will deliver as much as a thicket of mangroves. And nobody knows how to conserve and prosper from mangroves as well as their inhabitants -- such as the 48,000 people with whom we work in 19 villages dotted across the Rufiji delta in Tanzania, East Africa’s larg - est mangrove forest. “Everything in our lives depends on the mangroves,” says Yusuph Salelie, the chair of the delta’s Mfisini village. “Our houses are built of mangroves; the fish we catch live in mangrove roots; the mangroves clean our air; we even get salt from the mangrove areas.” Through the centuries, Salelie’s people have learned how to profit from those resources without destroying them. But in recent times, this cut-off delta region has become increasingly threatened by the modern world -- by man- grove cutting for timber, by rice farming, and by would-be external investment for big farms and cattle ranching, ur- ban development and harbours.
The delta’s villages have traditionally operated their own laws for policing their mangroves and keeping outsiders
Container vessel in port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Rifiji delta region has become increasingly threatened by urban development and harbours
Wetlands Annual Review 2019
Wetlands Annual Review 2019
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