Transforming Tanzania´s Charcoal Sector

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Producing sustainable charcoal in community managed woodlands

Why do we need sustainable charcoal?

An opportunity exists in Tanzania for rural communities to develop sustainably produced charcoal. Sustainable charcoal could reduce rural poverty; could contribute to protecting valuable ecosystem services; and could contribute to a more resilient domestic energy sector.

Tanzania´s charcoal industry is one of the country´s largest industries. The World Bank estimated that the industry is worth US$650 million and employs several hundred thousand people in rural and urban areas. Over one million tons of charcoal is consumed each year in Tanzania.

The charcoal industry is characterized by weak governance. National and local governments lose an estimated US$ 100 million per year due to their failure to effectively regulate the industry. Poor regulation of the industry has also contributed to charcoal production being a major driver of deforestation and forest degradation in protected areas and on village land.

Over the last decade, communities in Tanzania have established 814 village forest reserves covering 2.3 million hectares of forest and woodland. Sustainable charcoal production could offer a much-needed revenue stream for these reserves as well as providing rural employment.

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What is sustainably produced charcoal?

Sustainably produced charcoal is charcoal produced from wood from woodlands under participatory forest management that applies ecologically sound harvesting principles. Charcoal is produced using efficient kiln technology and is transported and sold in accordance with national regulations.

Project Overview

The Sustainable Charcoal project is a partnership project that aims to establish a commercially viable value chain for legal, sustainably produced charcoal. The overall goal is to improve climate change adaptation and mitigation; to enhance environmental sustainability and to leverage returns on biomass resources; thereby delivering sustainable development to Tanzania and its people.

What will the charcoal project do?

The project will work with communities and local government to establish sustainable and energyefficient charcoal production from woodland in village forest reserves. This will include training to village leaders and village natural resources committees; training to charcoal producers on improved charcoal production techniques; agreement on good practice in terms of harvesting, production techniques and governance; and integration of sustainable charcoal production into village forest reserve management plans. The project will also be linking the sustainable charcoal production with ongoing REDD (Reducing greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries) initiatives.

Working with community networks, the project will support advocacy initiatives for improved governance of the charcoal sector. The project will also conduct an assessment of the environmental and social impacts of different charcoal value chains. Eco-conscious charcoal buyers in Dar es Salaam and other urban centres will be presented with the option to buy sustainably produced charcoal.

Where will the project operate?

The project will operate in Kilosa District, Morogoro Region, where TFCG has been supporting a community-oriented REDD project since 2009. The project will focus on woodland adjacent to the high biodiversity forests of the Rubeho and Ukaguru Mountains, a part of the Eastern Arc Mountains biodiversity hotspot.

The proposed project lifetime is six years, comprising a two year inception and design phase and a four year period of expanded implementation. The project was launched in June 2012.

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Project beneficiaries

The project aims to benefit rural communities in Kilosa District, particularly in areas where participatory forest management (PFM) processes already form part of the pilot REDD programme. Sustainable charcoal production and support for climate smart, small-scale agriculture will be introduced in eight villages in Kilosa District.

The project is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The SDC project is implemented by the project partners.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

SDC is Switzerland’s international cooperation agency within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

The project will work with two Swiss Research institutions:

The Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

CDE is the University of Bern’s centre for sustainable development research with the aim of fostering sustainable development-oriented research.

Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)

EMPA is an interdisciplinary research and services institution for material sciences and technology development oriented to meet the requirements of industry and the needs of our society.

TaTEDO will provide expertise on charcoal production techniques:


TaTEDO is a sustainable energy development organization with more than twenty years experience actively involved in sustainable energy development projects and programmes in rural areas.

Reports and publications

CCAP 2014. Recommendations for elected representatives on bringing about change in government support for climate smart small-scale agriculture and REDD+.


Tanzania Forest Conservation Group
Old Bagamoyo Road
Plot No. 323, Msasani Village
P.O. Box 23410
Dar-es-Salaam - Tanzania.

Tel / Fax: +255 22 2669007