Wildlife conservation in Tanzania is governed by a number of policy documents, which include the National Environmental Policy of 1997, the Wildlife Policy of Tanzania, revised in 2007, National Policies for National Parks in Tanzania of 1994, National Forest Policy of 1998, and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of 2001.
The National Environment Policy is the framework policy on environmental management in the country and covers the entire spectrum of all environmental issues. The National Environment Policy focuses on six major environmental threats, including pollution, land degradation, lack of accessible and good quality water, loss of wildlife habitats and biodiversity, deterioration of aquatic systems, and deforestation. One of the main objectives of the National Environment Policy is to conserve and enhance natural heritage, including biological diversity in Tanzania. It recognizes that the loss of wildlife habitats is a key threat to wildlife in the country which negatively impacts the tourism industry.
The National Environment Policy provides for sectoral policies on wildlife to ensure that wildlife resources are protected and utilized in a sustainable manner. The sectoral polices should emphasize on protection of the natural wildlife heritage, fragile ecosystems and endangered species and encourage the participation of and benefits to local communities. The National Environment Policy further provides for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) before any development projects can be undertaken in wildlife conservation areas to minimize negative impacts on wildlife.
The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was adopted in 2001. It focuses on the protection of aquatic biodiversity, agro-biodiversity and terrestrial biodiversity. The overall vision which guides the Strategy and Action Plan is to build a society that values all the Biodiversity richness, using it sustainably and equitably, while taking the responsibility for actions that meet both the competing requirements of the present and the legitimate claims of the future generations. The Strategy and Action Plan is designed to guide the development of sound management policies and help enable legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks for rural communities and private sector to participate in biological resources utilization and combat illegal use of biological resources.
The National Forest Policy was adopted in 1998 to enhance the contribution of the forest sector to the sustainable development of Tanzania. The four policy areas are forest land management, forest-based industries and products, ecosystem conservation and management and institutional human resources. The National Forest Policy provides that management of forest reserves will incorporate wildlife conservation and wildlife resource assessment will be intensified. The policy also emphasizes on improved coordination between forestry and wildlife authorities in the management of wildlife inside forest reserves. Article 4.3.3 identifies encroachment, wildfires, illegal logging and poaching as the main factors contributing to the deterioration of wildlife populations in reserved forests.
The main policy dealing with wildlife conservation is the Wildlife Policy of Tanzania which was adopted in 2007. The key objectives of the policy are protection and conservation of wildlife and wetlands, sustainable utilization of wildlife and wetlands, management and development of wildlife and wetlands resources, strengthening resource monitoring and research and enhancing communication, education and public awareness. The Wildlife Policy defines the government’s priorities in wildlife conservation through regulation of utilization of wildlife and wetland resources, monitoring of wildlife and wetland resources, strengthening human resource base and capacity building, developing infrastructure and modernizing equipment and enhancing international cooperation.
The Wildlife Policy identifies persistent illegal wildlife off-take and wildlife trade as one of the major challenges facing the wildlife sector. The policy requires the government to strengthen its capabilities to carry out anti-poaching operations effectively to reduce and ultimately eliminate illegal off-take. The policy also emphasizes on habitat protection as part of its efforts to reduce illegal off-take. The Wildlife Policy therefore advances protected areas as the most reliable approach to wildlife conservation and aims at increasing the number of protected areas. The Wildlife Policy encourages community participation in wildlife conservation. It also defines the roles of central and local government institutions in managing wildlife resources, as well as the roles of other stakeholders including the private sector and NGO’s. The Wildlife Policy further provides for regional and international cooperation in wildlife conservation.
The National Policies for National Parks in Tanzania was adopted in 1994 and focuses on management of national parks. The purpose of this policy is to preserve national parks and to ensure that national parks retain a high degree of integrity in wildlife conservation. The policy covers a wide range of issues related to national parks including park planning, natural resource management, cultural resource management, wilderness preservation and management, public information and education and benefit sharing. The policy spells out the government’s policy direction on use of parks, developments within national parks, tourism and concessions and law enforcement.