Tanzania is among the world’s most biodiverse countries, with over 55,000 confirmed species. The country is also home to one third of total plant species and 20 percent of the large mammal species in Africa. Unfortunately, over the last few decades, Tanzania has lost at least one third of its important ecosystems, and experienced downward trends in both the number of species and their individual population sizes. In the last decade alone, the number of threatened species in Tanzania has tripled.
The Government of Tanzania has committed to ambitious national targets for biodiversity conservation. But it faces the complex challenge of balancing biodiversity conservation with the imperative to generate employment and diversify incomes, particularly for youth.
To realize Tanzania’s biodiversity as an economic driver, the country needs support to institute an effective governance approach that actively engages the public and private sectors, civil society, women, and youth for long-term sustainability.
The USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili Activity— “Preserve Natural Resources” in Swahili—is a five-year nationwide project that works to conserve Tanzania’s critical biodiversity, enhance habitat connectivity, and support community livelihoods. Fully funded by USAID, it builds on the groundwork laid by the USAID Promoting Tanzania’s Environment, Conservation, and Tourism (PROTECT) project, also implemented by RTI from 2015 to 2020.
The natural resource management project focuses on six key wildlife movement corridors—Kwakuchinja, the Tarangire-Simanjiro Plains, Kigosi Moyowosi-Uvinza, Nyerere Selous-Udzungwa, Amani-Nilo, and the Pemba Channel Conservation Area— to protect critical species and ecosystems under threat from human activity, degradation, and climate change.
Investing in biodiversity conservation means investing in communities
Building on USAID PROTECT’s success in creating more robust, locally led, and inclusive approaches to biodiversity conversation, the project continues to bring together an effective combination of government, civil society, and private sector actors throughout the country. Together, they work to find solutions for local communities by connecting village land use planning with community-based natural resource management in efforts to improve government-prioritized wildlife, forestry, and marine corridors.
In addition, USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili works to strengthen the capacity of multiple government institutions who are the stewards of Tanzania’s natural resources. Many of the project’s interventions include facilitating cooperation with communities and collaboration across jurisdictions for sustainable, effective change and collective commitment for both short-term needs (such as human-wildlife conflict resolution) and long-term resource strategy (such as sustaining resources for communities).
The project also strengthens the capacity of Tanzania’s civil society to plan, develop, fund, and implement natural resource management and biodiversity conservation activities. With increased capacity and technical ability, our partners sustainably reduce threats, not only based on their organization’s commitments, but by supporting others as a result of being engaged through connected and collaborative approaches.
The project also works to stop biodiversity loss before it occurs, shining a spotlight on the supply side of the issue through behavior change campaigns and communications strategies against actions such as wildlife trafficking, poaching, and overfishing that threaten critical species and ecosystems. As part of these efforts, USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili builds the investigative and reporting abilities of Tanzanian media outlets and journalists reporting on wildlife, natural resources, and tourism so that these important stories are highlighted and prioritized.
The inclusive infrastructure built through the project—such as enabling policies, financial saving groups targeting women and youth, corridor working groups, etc.—empowers women, youth, and vulnerable populations to participate in and lead their country’s conservation efforts and strengthen its economic growth.
Funding natural resource management for a biodiverse future
Mobilizing private sector engagement in conservation and natural resource management is vital to expanding impact. As such, USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili creates incentives for the private sector to invest in conservation and improve livelihoods among the communities that coexist. The project works with wildlife-focused businesses, such as lodges, tour operators, as well as collaborating with non-traditional partners, such as banks and transportation companies in effort to leverage resources, skills, network and expertise for biodiversity conservation.
By facilitating private sector engagement and amplifying community-based conservation efforts, USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili aims to improve Tanzania’s ability to plan, finance, and implement its own inclusive and equitable solutions to conservation and natural resource management challenges. Channeling private sector activities toward biodiversity conservation in partnership with communities has tremendous potential to catalyze local economic activity.
In addition, a quarter of project funds are set aside as part of a $7.5 million grants program—ensuring this important work is locally driven and sustainable. Technical activities funded through grants will focus on addressing the threats and drivers to target biodiversity ecosystems and species through strategic local capacity building—maximizing the collective impact within wildlife movement corridors and strengthening self-reliance.
Continuing opportunities for data-driven biodiversity conservation
USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili furthers USAID PROTECT’s robust natural resources data collection. Accurate, up-to-date information about wildlife movement in marine and terrestrial habitats supports the identification and protection of wildlife corridors, as well as informing adaptive management.
At the village, district, and regional levels, the project supports conservation partners to gather and analyze data to identify policy constraints and communicate findings to national policymakers, helping to guide private investment facilitation and revise policies to incentivize conservation.
Through intentional knowledge management initiatives, learning from USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili will serve as a cross-sector well of best practices that local and national institutions can continue to draw from and contribute to indefinitely.
Learn more about our biodiversity conservation and natural resource management solutions.