State-led Conservation in Tanzania

Research addressing dimensions of governance, institutional adaptive capacity and long-term social and ecological sustainability of community-based and larger protected area systems


Research Findings

Case Articles

Just Conservation? Justice, conservation and the protected areas establishment frenzy

“as long as we remain resigned to a culture of conservation that treats human beings as the enemy and that turns a blind eye to violations of human rights, the approach will be self-defeating. Current declines in biodiversity are not primarily a result of gaps in the number, extent and representation of parks and other kinds of protected areas, nor is the decline of iconic species caused by insufficiently strict exclusion of poor rural people from their traditional territories…”

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4th ICCA Consortium Letter: Communication on the proposed eviction of Uvinje community of Saadani

“the small and very poor Uvinje community has invested considerable time and effort, not only in saving wildlife since the 1970s, but lately also in developing an eco-lodge venture with partners, which helps to underpin their commitment for the long term. The fundamental demand of Uvinje villagers to keep their ancestral lands, of which they have been able custodians, is thus now augmented by personal efforts and economic investments.”

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3rd ICCA Consortium Letter: Soliciitng response to letter regarding attempted eviction of Uvinje community of Saadani Village in Tanzania

“The ICCA Consortium Secretariat, as well as its global membership, are tracking the matter and eagerly awaiting a positive resolution consistent with Tanzania’s own land tenure and natural resource policies that protect village land rights, as well as with international human rights obligations, CBD decisions, IUCN Resolutions and the recent WPC ‘Promise of Sydney’.”

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In the News

Chronology of Events on Conservation Grievances in Saadani Tanzania

Source: 5th ICCA CONSORTIUM Letter to Honourable Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United Republic of Tanzania
  1. 1965

    The Saadani village leaders approached the Director of Wildlife to request support to protect local wildlife that was being indiscriminately hunted by outsiders.
  2. 1974

    Following joint planning, the Saadani Game Reserve was gazetted. This included a contribution of close to 50% of the traditional community land area of the people of Saadani for the Reserve. Villagers willingly surrendered these lands as they were concerned by poaching on their lands. Matipwili Village, located southwest of Saadani, also surrendered land for the Reserve. All were assured they would lose no further land. With their cooperation, the Department installed concrete beacons to delineate the boundary between the new Saadani Game Reserve and village land as stated and described in the Gazette Notice. Only at one point, extending 2.5 km along the coast, did the Game Reserve extend to the coast. This enabled the traditional fishing and coconut palm sub-villages of Saadani (and Uvinje sub-village in particular) to sustain occupation, livelihood and with access to the sea. A period of close cooperation between the village and wildlife staff ensued. Of note, this pre-dated development of Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and Community Land Forest Reserves (CLFR); the enthusiasm of these villagers may have been a contributing factor to development of these practical conservation routes in the 1990s by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
  3. Late 1990’s

    Without involving or consulting Saadani villagers, TANAPA redrew the boundaries of Saadani Game Reserve to include all of Uvinje and Porokanya sub-villages and portions of other lands within Saadani Village including affecting the main village centre. Initially, TANAPA requested the village to surrender only inland areas, and it is possible that an agreement was secured. TANAPA also agreed to return 1.5 sq. km of the coastal zone made part of the Reserve in 1974, to cover expansion of Saadani’s village centre. At no time did Uvinje or Saadani villagers agree to or countenance loss of remaining coastal strips. A technical assessment of the differences between the gazetted boundaries of the Game Reserve in 1974 and the alleged boundaries of the same Game Reserve as produced by TANAPA clearly showed significant anomalies in TANAPA's map of Saadani Game Reserve.
  4. 2003

    Villagers protested the attempts of TANAPA to ignore the gazetted boundaries of Saadani Game Reserve and Uvinje leaders recall that they were assured this would not occur.
  5. 2005

    Saadani National Park was formally gazetted. The boundaries, as described, absorbed Saadani Game Reserve, not as had been originally gazetted but as the new TANAPA map incorrectly claimed it had been gazetted. The substantially expanded area encompassed almost all of Saadani village, including its communal land to the west of the Reserve and about 40 sq. km of its settled and coastal lands. By this act, the original area of Saadani Village was reduced to an unsustainable area for habitation and livelihood, a mere 12 sq. km.  Several sub-villages, and above all Uvinje, were to disappear. TANAPA referred to these villagers as illegal occupants of the Reserve, now Park. This overnight legal dispossession took place despite numerous protests made by Uvinje villagers before the park was gazetted.
  6. 2006

    At the instruction of the President, an official investigation into the claims of Uvinje village was undertaken by the District Commissioner of Bagamoyo District and the Regional Commissioner of Coast Region. The Commission ruled in favour of the villages and instructed TANAPA to reinstate their lands.
  7. 2007

    Relieved, Uvinje villagers decided to get on with their lives and improve their livelihood. They had been discussing for some time whether to follow the example of other villages in the country and establish an eco-lodge. They found an investment partner and who, as a foreigner, secured a Letter of Offer of Right of Occupancy with a 99-year lease on a portion of Uvinje lands and with its full consent. Together, they formed a joint venture company with the approval of the Tanzania Investment Centre. The community began to invest resources and labour into construction of a small eco-lodge, and for which they obtained an operating licence. Work on the building was forced to slow and virtually cease from 2010 when TANAPA began to demand full tourist fees for the partner to reach the plot, limiting his ability to bring in materials needed. The villagers also began to be charged fees when they attempted to move building materials for their eco-lodge.
  8. 2011

    TANAPA launched new efforts to evict the Uvinje villagers, with the support of a new District Commissioner. Compensation was offered. It appears that various lists of eligible claimants were compiled in the intervening years. They may have received compensation. Some may have claimed to come from Uvinje, but none were legitimate residents of Uvinje Village. The genuine Uvinje occupants restated their refusal to be evicted or to receive compensation to entice them to do so.
  9. 2013

    Uvinje villagers approached the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) in late 2012 and the Tanzania Law Society (TLS) (August 2014) to assist them to bring the matter to court. However, as a very poor and small fishing community, they lacked funds to carry this through.
  10. 2014

    With threats of enforced relocation continuing, Uvinje leaders approached various international NGO’s for support and were referred to the ICCA Consortium. Informed ICCA Consortium members made further inquiries. Protimos, a legal advisory group with offices in London and Cape Town dispatched a lawyer in East Africa at the time to review the matter on site. A review of relevant land, conservation and wildlife legislation and policies was also conducted. In addition, the ICCA Consortium was ably assisted by a geographer known to have worked in the area as part of her doctoral thesis. In the course of this work she had documented the location of the original area comprising the Saadani Game Reserve. She had also found two of the original boundary beacons which TANAPA had failed to remove. After consideration of the merits of the matter, the ICCA Consortium wrote to President Jakaya Kikwete on August 20 2014. This received some press coverage. As no official response was forthcoming, the ICCA Consortium wrote a second letter to President Kikwete on January 7 2015.
  11. Early 2015

    Among matters addressed by President Kikwete in his monthly televised broadcast of April 2015, he mentioned that he would establish a Parliamentary Committee to investigate land disputes around Saadani National Park including, and specifically mentioning the plight of Uvinje sub-village. This Committee was formed.  The ICCA Consortium wrote to thank and compliment the President for his expressed commitment on May 8 2015. In mid May 2015, village leaders, of their own volition, also met with a member of the Committee, namely the District Commissioner of Bagamoyo, Mr Mwajid Hemed Mwanga. He promised that he or the Committee would visit the village of Uvinje before the end of May. This visit was not forthcoming.
  12. 2015

    A delegation of officials arrived at the TANAPA headquarters in Saadani and called the villagers to meetings on November 14 and 15 2015. It is believed the delegation was fielded in response to your directive that outstanding matters be promptly resolved. The delegation was guided by the Chief Park Warden of Saadani National Park. Villagers were told that while various boundary disputes would be addressed, this would not include Uvinje or Porokanya. When this was questioned by the Chairman of Uvinje Sub-Village, the leader of that Commission said that the Uvinje and Porokanya sub-village lands have always been part of the preceding Game Reserve and would not be included in the investigation. Documents available at:    

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