Tree planting

Forest and landscape restoration in Butiama Hills, Tanzania

  • Tree planting -
    • Butiama, Tanzania
    • Reading time: 5 min
Planting trees Butiama

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Project information

At a glance

In partnership with the Global Resource Alliance (GRA) and five surrounding communities, this project aims to restore the Butiama Hills, a fully functional ecosystem, through the assisted natural regeneration (ANR) of over 3868 hectares of acacia woodlands. Individual woodlots and agroforestry systems on 1600 smallholder farming households adjacent to the hills will reduce pressure on the forests and further improve livelihoods.

The project will be carried out in close collaboration with four adjacent communities: Busegwe, Kigori, Mwikoro and Nyanza. The 8-year restoration of 1500 ha of degraded forest will use the Assisted Natural Regeneration approach, as a basic baseline vegetation assessment in 2022 demonstrated that 65 tree species occur and seem to have potential for natural regeneration. These include the near-threatened Dalbergia melanoxylon (African blackwood/grenadilla) and Vepris hanangensis.

Project importance

The Butiama hills in Mara, Tanzania have suffered from serious deforestation and degradation through illegal and unregulated firewood harvesting, charcoal burning and grazing. This has led to the drying up of water sources, and the communities lack access to affordable and appropriate clean energy sources. The areas surrounding the hills are an agricultural landscape formed by a mosaic of woodlots and limited tree canopies. Low productivity agriculture and a lack of community ownership of forests also contribute to the degradation of the landscape here.

These drivers of deforestation and forest degradation will be sustainably reversed through increased forest cover, self-sustaining community-based forest management groups, and forest-friendly diversified alternative livelihoods. Phase 1 (2023–2026) of the project focuses on establishing agroforestry on smallholder lands, benefitting local communities and enhancing environmental sustainability. This involves planting 3.78 million trees across 1967 hectares of agroforestry, with 1891 trees per hectare, and 55 hectares of teak with 1100 trees per hectare. Additionally, 1.65 million trees will be protected through ANR in natural forests managed by the communities. This method will increase carbon sequestration rates and restore biodiversity, enhancing the region's climate resilience and long-term viability. The project works closely with local communities and village councils to ensure approval of project plans and to develop law enforcement strategies in collaboration with Tanzania Forest Services. Furthermore, by mapping boundaries and engaging these local communities, it ensures effective restoration and regulated land use plans, with minimized conflicts.


The project adopts a holistic approach, addressing social, economic, and environmental aspects to create resilient livelihoods and mitigate the drivers of deforestation in the region. It aims to empower the involved communities through sustainable livelihood initiatives, particularly focusing on agroforestry and woodlot schemes. So far, efforts were focused on establishing agroforestry systems with the 145 participating farmers to provide them with alternative sources of firewood, timber, and fodder while enhancing soil and water resources and increasing agricultural productivity. The project plans to further enrol 1600 farmers in agroforestry and woodlot schemes, through the selection and training of 14 lead farmers that will guide others in implementing agroforestry practices. Practical demonstrations and theoretical training sessions equip these farmers with the necessary knowledge and skills to optimize space, improve soil fertility, and further diversify income sources.

Project gallery

Location of the project

Project partner

This project is run by WeForest, a non-profit organization that was established in in 2010. WeForest’s mission is to create a world where communities and nature sustainably thrive together to stop global warming in our lifetime. WeForest works towards this goal by conserving and restoring the ecological integrity of forest. Their goal is to reach over 100 million trees – equivalent to around 85.000 hectares – restored or conserved by the end of 2024, thereby making a significant contribution to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals

Improving the lives of 46.000 people through diversified sources of income
Increasing food security, nutrition and agricultural productivity through agroforestry, fruit and timber/fuelwood trees, and beekeeping.
Empowering women and girls by reducing the need for long-distance travel to collect firewood.
Boosting carbon sequestration with the planting of 5.22 million trees and combating deforestation and forest degradation that contributes to climate change.
Restoration of a fully functional ecosystem by assisting the natural regeneration of over 3868 hectares of acacia woodlands

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Boris Bekkering

Boris Bekkering Head of Climate Impact