Measuring the role of smallholders in national tree planting goals – lessons from Tanzania

Authors: Lisa Naughton*, Dept. of Geography, U. of Wisconsin - Madison, Niwaeli Kimambo (first author), Dept. of Geography, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, Jessica L'Roe, Department of Geography, Middlebury College, Volker Radeloff, Dept of Forest & Wildlife Ecology, U. of Wisconsin-Madison
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment, Africa
Keywords: environment, development, reforestation, tropics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Paris Accord and SDG-15 have spurred many African countries to set ambitious tree planting goals. Tt is unclear if these countries will implement their pledges via government-run plantations or private woodlots. Reliance on private farmers, including smallholders, may reduce the risk of displacement or recentralization of forest governance. But calculating the additionality of this strategy is challenging given the poor data on the recent surge in smallholder tree planting in the region. We develop an approach for quantifying the extent and expansion of smallholder tree planting in the densely settled, fine-grain land use mosaic common to East Africa. We focus on Tanzania, a country set to reforest 5.4M Ha. We analyze both high- and medium-resolution remote sensing imagery to detect plantations and measure different tree farm size classes’ contribution to the total. We use hand-digitized tree farms to determine the minimum age and area necessary for remote detection. Our results show that woodlots of <1 Ha predominate. Mapping accuracies are highest for woodlots >4 years (accuracy 67%), those 1-3 years are easily confused with cropland (39%). Thus our work generates a more accurate picture of regional tree planting, and provides an approach for quantifying the extent of planted forests that is attentive to the role of smallholders and that can be applied in other fine-scale land use mosaics in the tropics. Last we address whether tree planting pledges, if implemented via subsidies to private farmers, will produce additionality for carbon dioxide mitigation, or simply support an ongoing regional trends.

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