Why combine private and communal tree management? A case-study based in Majawanga (Gairo, Tanzania)
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Despite the focus on the importance of trees in Africa and the many projects that try to improve their management, there is very little research and few development projects which address tree related problems in a holistic manner. With respect to forest management arrangements, focus tends to be either exclusively on community forestry, or on private tree planting. Such a divided focus makes it difficult to understand the complementarities and possible synergetic effects of these two approaches in solving common problems and improving local livelihoods. The present article argues that interdisciplinary projects are needed to develop a holistic approach to tree management and to improve the use of trees. This argument builds on the results from the PETREA (People, Trees and Agriculture) research programme in Majawanga (Gairo, Tanzania). In this village, private and collective tree management is characterized by very different uses, opportunities and problems. Common woodlands play an important role in providing villagers with Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) from indigenous species that are important for local livelihoods as they provide food, medicine, and grazing areas. The constraints linked to the management of common woodlands pertain to group dynamics and resemble, at first glance, a “tragedy of the commons” as described by Hardin (1968). Private tree planting, on the other hand, provides both local services (including providing fruits, firewood or securing boundaries between fields) and cash from the selling of poles. The constraints characterizing private tree management are linked to land-tenure, tree seedling cost and season for planting. Land tenure is of paramount importance as trees cannot be planted on borrowed or rented land, or at the expense of cropland needed to sustain the household. The season for planting seedlings is a constraint because of a conflict with labour demands for crops needed to survive. Despite being characterized by very different uses and constraints, the management of private and common trees also share common constraints as both require that grazing is under control and that there exist clear rules and efficient institutions able to solve management conflicts. Both types of management should therefore be analyzed together as improving one can help relieve the pressure on the other.