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Equator Initiative Case Study – Suledo Forest Community

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In 1993, the Government of Tanzania designated the Suledo Forest as a Central Government Forest Reserve, in an attempt to stem the overexploitation of forest resources in this 167,400-ha stretch of miombo woodland. This move, made without prior local consultation, resulted in the disenfranchisement of nine neighbouring forest-dependent Maasai villages.
These communities resisted the new arrangement, prompting the government to begin a process of devolution of forest use rights to the local level through Village Environmental Committees, where local communities were transferred responsibilities for formulating forest management plans and crafting by-laws to enforce them. Eventually, Suledo Forest was granted the legal status of a Village Land Forest Reserve, formally establishing local management authority, and allowing for the sustainable commercial harvesting of forest resources for the benefit of the Maasai. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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