Implications of Participatory Land Use Plans on Forest Governance and Ecosystem Integrity in, Kigoma Region – Western Tanzania
Land use planning has been considered as one of the remarkable forest governance instruments in Tanzania for guiding resource use, including sustainable management of forest resources and ecosystem integrity. When thoroughly implemented, land use plans have potential to overcome ecosystem degradation, foster sustainable management of forest resources, enhance forest utilizations and promote integrity of forest resources. In this article we present findings on role of land use planning in the governance of forest resources and ecosystems integrity in Uvinza district, Kigoma region, Western Tanzania. Our study was guided by three objectives; to analyse community participation in the land use planning, to analyse reasons for forest ecosystem degradation despite existing land use plans, and to analyse implications of forest utilization on availability of ecosystem goods and services and ecosystem integrity. We used qualitative and quantitative approaches in the three case study villages, Itebula, Bweru and Chagu. Results show less consideration of stakeholder interests during land use planning process. These included unresolved shared resources, incomplete land use plans, administrative inadequacies, politics, and transparency issues. These shortfalls incentivize unsustainable practices such as charcoal making, illegal logging, timbering and shifting cultivation, hence leading to ecosystems degradation. It was deduced from the results that limited participation by communities during land use planning and subsequent implementation of land use and management plans poses a potential challenge for controlling drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, which are essential elements for ecosystem integrity. Likewise, inappropriate forest governance structures contribute to forest ecosystem degradation, and thus posing critical challenges for ecosystem integrity.