Allegheny Professor Receives Grant to Help With Sustainable Community-Based Forestry Project in Africa

Dr. Nicole Gross-Camp, a visiting assistant professor of environmental science and sustainability at Allegheny College, has received a grant from the United Kingdom’s Darwin Initiative in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Scotland to make forest management sustainable in Tanzania.

The $469,000 grant will support the project participants over the course of three years in research they have titled “Realizing Equitable, Sustainable and Profitable Community-Based Forest Management in Tanzania” or RESPeCT. Gross-Camp’s portion of $59,000 will support her lead of the social science team.

Gross-Camp’s research focuses on the socio-ecological benefits communities derive from these forests while also recognizing the multiple roles that these landscapes play in peoples’ livelihoods. The team operates under the guidance of and in cooperation with the Tanzanian NGO, Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative. MCDI has been working in the area since 1995 assisting communities in the establishment of community-based forest reserves on community terms. Working in collaboration with MCDI and local communities, RESPeCT aims to reduce deforestation and forest degradation through the formation of more community-based forest reserves.

“Tanzania has one of the most legally-robust systems for community forestry (CF) in the world with approximately 23 percent of the country’s 48 million forested hectares under communal or joint (governmental and communal) management. Despite CF’s legal standing, we still have much to learn about how these systems support and/or burden local people as well as how they perform ecologically,” Gross-Camp said. “Our project aims to do just that and, hopefully, provide guidance to the nation on scaling up of these governance systems.”

The other partners include the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the World Wide Fund for Nature (Tanzania), the Tanzania Commission for Sciences and Technology (COSTECH), and the Kilwa Women Paralegal Unit in Tanzania (KIWAPO).

Photo Caption: Dr. Nicole Gross-Camp and her field manager, Lasima Nzao, with their field vehicle, affectionately known as mzee (‘old man’ in Swahili).