Every year FSC Denmark hosts the ‘FSC design award’ competition, in which young designers must create a product from FSC certified wood. This is a very popular event among the trendsetters of tomorrow. The winner gets a trip to a foreign country, an opportunity to see an FSC program in action. For this year’s competition, FSC Denmark brought together companies and NGOs to support the competition and fund travel to Tanzania.

FSC in Tanzania’s coastal forests
Over the last five years, WWF Denmark has been collaborating with WWF Tanzania and the Mpingo Concervation Development Initiative in an effort to extend the use of the FSC programs in the coastal forests in Kilwa. Just a few years ago, more than 90% of all trees exported from Tanzania were harvested illegally. Today the situation has improved, but a lot of exported wood remains illegally harvested.

This is not the only threat facing Tanzania’s forests. Local people need to learn how to manage their forests in a sustainable way. All around Kilwa are sacks of wood charcoal and small souvenirs that have been carved using wood from endangered black Mpingo trees. According to Maj Manczak from WWF Denmark, who is in charge of the project, the exploitation is small but local carvers harvest the most expensive and popular species. The forests remain under threat in the long term.

FSC programs provide resources
Nainokwe is one of the villages that takes part in the FSC program. Abdallah, who lives in Nainokwe, explains the difference FSC certification makes for the local community: ”Thanks to FSC, illegal harvesting in the area has almost stopped. At the same time, we have been given official rights to exploit the forest area. As a result, we do not have to pay taxes to the district any more, which provides more money for our community,” He continues: ”The FSC program also provides us with some knowledge about the value of the forests. Now we know that we have to be careful with fire in the forests, as the trees represent such an enormous value for us – and there have been fewer forest fires lately.”

Half of the income from the FSC certified forest goes directly to the community, and everyone votes to decide what the money should been spent on. The next planned investment is to build a house for teachers, to discourage good teachers from leaving the village. Everyone in the community wants to find ways to keep good teachers, as this will safeguard the education of future generations.

Investment in water pumps and clean water
Kikole was the first forest village to become FSC certified in Africa. Since then, many other villages have followed. The people in Kikole recently installed a water pump, after voting that the money from their first sale of FSC certified wood should be invested in a water pump.

Mwanaisha , a local woman , explains why they chose to buy a water pump: ”Previously we had to collect water from the river. We had to walk really far along bumpy tracks and very often we could only carry one bucket at a time. With our new water pump, we can collect more easily water, and the water is much cleaner.”

Although the community has not sold yet a large quantity of wood, the water pump demonstrates the opportunities gained from being part of a sustainable forest management. Maj Manczak was delighted to discover that the village has successfully implemented its own idea : “I am very pleased that the projects with the FSC forests have been successful. The locals decided how to spend their earnings and have taken the initiative to build it. They have also taken responsibility to develop their water system and have learned how to maintain it.”

Read Mette’s travel blog at www.fsc.dk/designrejse