Governing Mangroves – Unique Challenges for Managing Tanzania’s Coastal Forests


This assessment report provides an analysis of natural resource governance, including land and resource tenure, in coastal mangrove forests in Tanzania, focusing in particular on the Rufiji delta. It forms part of a broader study that includes a global review and a parallel national-level study of Indonesian mangroves. By examining national-level legal and policy frameworks covering forestry, wildlife, fisheries, land, and agriculture sectors, the report identifies the way in which regulations and institutional coordination affects the governance of mangrove forests including tenure arrangements. The study particularly focuses on the Rufiji delta to examine how national-level policy and legislative frameworks are applied in practice within a river delta system that is the largest in Tanzania and East Africa. The Rufiji estuary provides an excellent case study because it has the most extensive mangrove forest area (about 22,000 hectares [ha]) in the region; experiences the full range of threats facing mangrove forests in the country, and relies on different types of mangrove management approaches. The assessment report investigates how local-level governance arrangements for mangrove management and rehabilitation interact with the national framework. In particular, the report takes a close look at tenure rights within mangrove forests, gendered dimensions of use and management, as well as interactions among communities and government authorities in mangrove protection and rehabilitation.

This report is based on a review of the literature, national laws, and policies, as well as interviews and discussions with key actors at the national, district, and village levels. At the sub-national level, the study covered four villages in the Rufiji delta, interviewing groups of men and women. The main gaps and challenges in mangrove management in Tanzania emerging from this study relate to community rights and access; the distribution of power, responsibilities, and benefits between government authorities and communities; and coordination between relevant government agencies. These results provide specific insights that need to be addressed in Tanzania to move toward a sustainable approach to mangrove management.