Tanzania plans to redraw the boundaries of its wildlife reserves and parks to address the increasing demand for land use.
President John Magufuli this past week ordered the suspension of the planned eviction of people in 366 villages that are alleged to have encroached on the reserves.
According the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania has reserved 28 per cent of its entire land for parks.
The ministers for livestock and conservation have been instructed to identify the affected villages in one month, after which a process to amend the law will start to provide for distribution of land to the villagers.
The president’s order came during his meeting with the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Hamis Kigwangwalah, chief secretary John Kijazi, and Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdalah Ulega.
The president directed the ministries to identify all reserved areas and forests which no longer have wild animals and allocate them to livestock keepers and farmers.
He tasked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism with re-examining the demarcation of borders between reserves and villages to ensure that it does not remove people from areas that no longer need to be reserves.
“We should consider the troubles of the people we are leading. It’s now upon you to look for the best ways to address the issue,” he said.
“But we also need wild animals. I don’t mean that we are going to redistribute all national parks countrywide. We must preserve the active reserves,” President Magufuli said, adding that he did not like to see pastoralists being chased from place to place.
He said the move was necessitated by the growing population now estimated at about 55 million people, leading to more demand for land.
The president also called for a review of the law governing water catchment areas.
President Magufuli praised the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Development for its proposal to revoke title deeds of privatised undeveloped estates.
He has ordered the ministry to submit its proposals for the abolition of non-developed farms and to continue to provide recommendations to him for all the farms that have been abandoned and revoke the title deeds to be re-issued to the citizens for production of livestock.