Zanzibar's Big Agenda To Reclaim Its Natural Green Status


By Rauhiya Mussa:

Arbitrary cutting of trees has caused numerous changes in the country, including drought, soil erosion and floods. The deteriorating number of trees has occasioned an increase of carbon dioxide emissions.

To mitigate these changes, the revolutionary government of Zanzibar, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Irrigation and Livestock involving the Department of Forestry, have now turned to planting mangrove in a bid to reclaim and protect its beaches and nature.

To make the initiative successful, the government has enjoined the communities living in the target areas as the planters and protectors of these crucial trees that not only mitigate climate but also protect the ocean ecosystem.

Mr Khamis Chotaa, the chairman of the environment committee in the area of the mangrove reserve in Mafufuni village says one of the reasons they are planting trees is to eliminate disasters as well as changes in the country's behavior. 


He further says the community strives in planting mangrove trees to reduce the speed of the water that goes to the upper part and also affect other trees.

“Due to the arbitrary cutting of mangroves and the damage caused, we decided to stop cutting of mangroves in our villages since it impacted living creatures such as turtles in the mangroves," he said.

In terms of trees planting in the beaches, the villager says it helps to keep their hives so that the bees do not go far in search of flowers with water that give honey and help to harm the criminals of cutting down the trees to fail to reject the mangrove trees.


"The presence in the seedling compound for the installation of bees together with the hives to freeze the bees and get honey as well as the change in the country's behavior leads to the bees being affected and the death of many bees due to lack of air and also honey is not available in abundance in the presence of the effects of climate change"

 Chotara says the importance of planting mangrove trees is to reclaim its biodiversity which was lost due to cutting of trees and climate change. "We first saw that there are effects that emerged after cutting of mangroves by the community. We suffered losses by seeing water entering in abundance in the crops and the nutrients that were in the corals lost together with crops such as rice,"he says/

 According to the 2013 tree census, it has shown that Zanzibar needs 1,340,069 cubic meters per year of forest products including firewood and charcoal. The report states that our forests only have the capacity to produce 485,532 cubic meters per year, equal to 36 percent of the demand. 

This means Zanzibar has a deficit of 854,537 cubic meters equal to 64 percent per year, lost in the period from 1997 to 2013 in Unguja and 704 hectares in Pemba. 

Also, 20,649 hectares of mixed forests have been lost due to the construction of burial grounds on the Unguja side and 14,338 hectares of Pemba during the period described above.

 The level of wood energy consumption for cooking is still high compared to other energy sources which according to the 2019-2020 economic assessment report shows that the energy consumption is 52.8 percent followed by the use of coal which takes 34.1 percent. However, the report has noted that the use of electricity for cooking has increased somewhat compared to previous years. The level of electricity consumption for cooking still remains low at 2.6 percent.

 Addition that , the use of natural gas for cooking has increased to 6.6 percent (UK 57 HBS Main report 2019/2020) for a period of one month, the report has shown that households spend an average of 16,538 shillings for firewood and 20,490 shillings for buying coal.

 For the period from October 2022 to March 2023, statistics show that the center of Jozani in the southern region of Unguja is leading in the statistics of inspection of wood and coal resources compared to other centers for the control of these resources, a total of 462.36 cubic meters equal to loads of 92,470 firewood and 158.4 tons of charcoal equivalent to polo were allowed to be transported from the southern district of Unguja to other districts.

 With this situation, there is a need to take better measures that will help community members in the environment.

"Getting the motivation to bring back the mangroves again for sowing mangrove seeds and planting and burning after seeing the effects that appeared and after a while the mangroves were enriched for a period of 5, 6 to 10 years with some crops such as braid, corals and water growing more in agricultural areas and the crops decreased even though the community still rejects the mangroves." she says Mrs Mkusa Mshenga who is the treasurer of the environmental group.

 This stage of changes in the country's behavior affects the community to a great extent, as explained by the  Forest Department and forestry officer Mrs Samira Makame Juma from the Zanzibar  through the changes in the country's behavior, it is a change in the climate with a long-term trend with an increase in temperature in the atmosphere of the world and cause many harms to the society including changes in rainfall patterns, droughts, floods as well as rains that do not rain reliably and diseases.

 "There is a great importance on planting trees, even the world's experts say that to deal with the change in the country's behavior is to plant those trees that have the ability to absorb carbon dioxide (carbon-oxide) that is spreading in the world, causing extreme heat to enter the ground if we plant trees to carbon dioxide use mangrove trees in the sea as well as the trees above to reduce at least this carbon dioxide temperature.

 In the great efforts made by the forestry department in Zanzibar to ensure that they plant trees in the areas of government farms as well as community forests and encourage different communities by planting natural trees that can absorb carbon dioxide in a very large amount.

"Asking the community members in the villages to plant trees when the monsoon rains arrive, they distribute seedlings to the villages and take the seedlings and plant the trees in open areas as well as areas affected by fire and other things, and they also ensure that they encourage the planting of trees in urban areas by planting trees in roadside areas as well as in open community areas and encourage students to plant trees in their school areas to deal with climate change. 

Government planted 59.8 hectares in 2021,  29 hectares in 2022 and  30.7 hectares in 2023 in the areas of Donge Chechele, Jendele, Unguja Ukuu, Kibele, Masingini as well as Zingwe Zingwe and other areas.

 With a chief forest officer department of forestry Zanzibar Mrs . Miza Suleiman Khamis  say that the situation of tree planting is very much in collaboration with the municipal councils and the environment department every year including the spring and autumn seasons and especially the trees are planted in the most affected areas in the area where the sand has been dug up and in the areas where the forests are planted that are sick to plant trees.

 “Through the Green Legacy Program in Zanzibar (green vegetation) to return the islands of Zanzibar to green vegetation as before from the office of the President in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Livestock as well as other government and private institutions to organize Zanzibar in urban planning that was effective”.

 For many decades, Zanzibar has been well known as Green Island due to the existence of richness of forest cover.  The forest cover is gifted with rich biodiversity, natural resources and a home to some of the most breath-taking primary rainforests, which to a large extent has constituted the basis for livelihood growth.

 It is one of the world's biodiversity and spice hot-spots because the variety of ecosystems supports an abundance of species. This situation has recently begun to change and forest cover start to decline.  Deforestation and environmental degradation in Zanzibar Archipelago has continued to threaten forestry and hence the community livelihood and the national economy.

 The journey to reclaiming Zanzibar's glory is a long term endeavor which will entail progress beyond structural and process changes in the operations of public institutions and non-state organizations envisaged to be undertaken in the medium term. There is a need to adopt a long-term strategic perspective in undertaking the Green Legacy Programmed.

Long term perspective : As already noted the transformation of Zanzibar vegetation cover into green scenario / scenery / vision plays a crucial role in achieving sustained development by impacting positively on reduction of the impacts of climate change in the country.

 It will require interventions that address improvement in business processes and cultural re-orientation of the public and leadership at all levels.

The public will need to adopt a mind-set change towards the environment and on the other hand, the staff that will be directly involved in implementation of GLP will need to put in place mechanisms to support the community members to appreciate the importance of the initiative and take part in its sustainability.

 Finally ,given the comprehensive coverage of the envisaged GLP, tasks involved as well as lessons learned from other countries indicate the transformation of Zanzibar towards a green environment will require at least 10 years of sustained effort.  It is therefore proposed that the GLP be implemented over two phases of 5 years each. This Zanzibar GLP constitutes Phase 1 from 2022/2023 to 2027/2028.


Back ground

Zanzibar designed and developed a Green Legacy Programme to inspire and enable all people of Zanzibar and stakeholders to plant and grow trees to improve its environment for present and future generations.  This is a long term programmed, which is implemented starting from 2022/2023 toward the realization of the aspiration of achieving sustainable green and climate resilient Zanzibar. 

The Green Legacy Programme deliberates the objectives and milestones recognized by national, regional and international frameworks including but not limited to the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050, Zanzibar Development Plan (ZADEP) 2021– 2026, Zanzibar Environmental Policy 2013, the Nationally Determined Contribution (2021) and other related policies, strategies, programmes and plans.


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