Endangered Ecosystems of Northern Tanzania

Implemented by The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
In partnership with the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative: Carbon Tanzania, OIKOS, Honeyguide Foundation, Ujamaa Community Resource Team, Tanzania People and Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society, Maliasili Initiatives, and Pathfinder International
Project timeframe: September 11, 2015 – September 10, 2020
USAID Support (5 years): $12.4 million

Tanzania’s Northern Rangelands – A significant yet threatened Landscape

Tanzania’s northern rangelands stretch across more than six million acres and includes some of the world’s most significant wildlife populations and iconic landscapes, including: Serengeti, Tarangire, and Lake Manyara National Parks; Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Natron, and West Kilimanjaro. In northern Tanzania, wildlife disperse and migrate across vast areas and are therefore heavily dependent on community lands for their survival. Thus, the connectivity of the rangelands across this region is essential for wildlife and for the pastoralist communities’ that depend on the lands to raise their livestock.

What was historically a balanced co-existence between wildlife and pastoralists has shifted in recent years. Today, population growth, changing social values and structures and climate change impacts are causing increased pressures, resource scarcity and conflict.
Recent and rapid land use changes have resulted in habitat fragmentation and undermine the landscape’s ability to continue to provide integrated grazing lands for pastoralists and seasonal habitat for wildlife. Local communities also have weak incentives to protect wildlife from illegal use (e.g. poaching or trafficking) or habitat degradation. In turn, wildlife populations are decreasing, which is a serious threat to Tanzania’s tourism industry – the source of more than 13% of GDP and a major source of employment and commerce in northern Tanzania.


Addressing the Challenges, Collaboratively and Holistically

With USAID funding, TNC will continue to lead a unique partnership comprising of both international and local organizations to support the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative in the Tarangire/Maasai Steppe ecosystem. This ecosystem comprises the key stretch of rangelands, which connect Serengeti to the west with the Amboseli ecosystem to the east. Included in this landscape are key areas aimed at enhancing wildlife conservation, ecosystem connectivity and community rights, including: 5 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) (Burunge, Randilen, Makame, Enduimet and Natron), 8 communal Customary Certificates of Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) (titled for communal grazing and traditional use), 2 community grazing and conservation easement zones and over 50 villages.

Four key strategies will guide our work. The ultimate impact of implementing these strategies will be:

  • More resilient human and natural communities, with women and youth empowered;
  • Inclusive broad-based economic growth sustained;
  • Effective democratic governance improved, particularly for wildlife conservation.

Strategy 1:

Improve local governance and transparency. Good governance of wildlife, forests and communal rangelands is based on strong community participation, accountable and representative leadership, and transparent decision-making for successful community-led conservation, whether within or outside WMAs.

Strategy 2:

Improve wildlife protection and land and habitat management. To secure long-term viability of northern Tanzania’s wildlife, natural resources and pastoralist economy, the project will focus on protecting connectivity across rangelands in the landscape.

Strategy 3:

Diversify income and improve health for local communities, notably women and youth. This includes developing a livestock marketing program, developing an avoided deforestation carbon project, increasing revenue from tourism, building capacity and markets for small scale enterprises (honey, leather, etc.) and increasing access to capital to help these communities become more resilient to all threats, including climate change.

Strategy 4:

Increase resilience to climate change. Adapting to anticipated near and long-term impacts of climate change is critical to ensuring sustainability across sectors and to developing resiliency within communities and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Pastoralists are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with frequent recurrent droughts and deteriorating and diminishing limited rangeland resources due to climate change and poor rangeland management practices. Resilience of both the ecosystem services and the livelihoods on which people depend can help to prevent not only climate change related impacts, but also avoid adoption of unsustainable household climate change adaptation like shifting cultivation, and excessive grazing.