Field Visit in Tanzania: Uniting Climate Protection with Community Resilience

Realising the value of carbon stored in forests and soils can deliver urgently needed finance for conservation and sustainable development. But generating and selling carbon credits and ensuring the benefits flow to communities and biodiversity is easier said than done.

Senior Programme Manager Nina Saalismaa and Senior Communications Manager Celine Guerin recently travelled to Tanzania to see how The Nature Conservancy (TNC), to which the Foundation provides philanthropic funding, works closely with local communities and other stakeholders to maximise the gains

What were your goals for the trip

We joined a visit organised by TNC for donors to projects in Tanzania that are part of the Africa Forest Carbon Catalyst (AFCC)a multi-country programme launched in 2021. We have been supporting this programme with philanthropic funding since 2023.

The main objective was to improve our understanding of nature-based project to sequester and store carbon: What does it take to create and implement such a project? Who are the actors, what are the main challenges? How do you actually make it work, given that it is such a complex package? I have been following this topic for a while, but from a distance. So this was a chance to get a first-hand impression also of how the Trafigura Foundation can contribute in this space.

A second important goal was to get to know TNC better. As well as supporting them in Africa, we also have an exciting new partnership in Mongolia. So this was an opportunity to talk to them about our wider collaboration, understand how they operate also in the field and deepen our relationship.

How do these natural climate solutions work?

The AFCC aims to avoid or reduce emissions equivalent to 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2025 while restoring or conserving 10 million hectares of African forest landscapes and improving the lives of half a million people.

To reach these ambitious targets, the AFCC programme is identifying and supporting the development of 22 carbon projects in nine countries, involving the conservation and restoration of mangroves, wetlands and grasslands as well as forests. The promise of these projects is that, by generating carbon credits, they can attract private investment and provide communities with the resources and resilience they need to be good custodians of their environment.

Natural climate solutions like this have huge potential to counter global warming and protect biodiversity. But these are complex initiatives that need careful preparation,
management and monitoring so that they deliver proven benefits over a long enough time and on a big enough scale to make a real difference.

That’s where an organisation like TNC comes in to provide mentoring and support to carbon project developers to enable them to generate verified, high-quality credits
for the voluntary carbon market. Another key role for TNC is in fostering enabling conditions so that nature-based carbon projects can operate with legal certainty and broad support.

Naronyo Nangoisho (on the right) and another Maasai community member in TNC’s holistic planned livestock grazing management work. 

What insights did you gain in the field?

Our partnership with the AFCC programme is focused on forest conservation projects in Zambia and the Republic of the Congo, but many aspects of the AFCC projects in Tanzania are absolutely relevant also in those countries.

For example, we discovered a community-led soil carbon initiative designed to improve rangelands health in northern Tanzania and learned from the staff of TNC partner organisations including Tanzania People and WildlifeUjamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT) and Oikos about their role in this initiative.

We heard from Maasai communities in the Randilen Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which is part of an important wildlife migration corridor, about how they are implementing improved grazing practices and following an agreed management plan that meets the needs of their livestock while also maintaining habitat for wildlife.

That means families are rotating their livestock through different areas, monitoring the condition of the rangelands, and creating conditions so that more carbon is stored in the soil.


From left to right: Bariki Lelya, Field Coordinator of Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), an organisation supporting indigenous and local communities in Tanzania through sustainable natural resource management and advocacy for their rights; Meshack Lepilal, Randilen Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Ranger and livestock grazing coordinator; and Meshurie Melembuki, Randilen WMA Manager.

ICRAF (International Center for Research in Agroforestry), through TNC funding, is assessing soil and land health using the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF) in Northern Tanzania, over a span of 2 months. The team takes 7 plot samples per day. 

Location: Lolbene Village, Simanjiro District

TNC is providing training for local farmers in soil sampling and testing procedures to rapidly expand more sustainable agricultural practices.

We also visited agroforestry and restoration projects near Mount Kilimanjaro, and met with carbon project developers. They told us about the challenges, successes and the know-how needed to bring carbon projects to the point where they can become investable.

These long-running efforts are the result of close cooperation between partners and stakeholders that have given the communities a strong voice and an active role in the
management of the land. We could feel the level of trust that has developed.

 Dedicating time to this human element, especially at the local level, is really important here and in many other contexts.

So I came back very reassured and impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the TNC teams. I think we are in really good hands.


In this nursery site in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, locally sourced seedlings are collected, stored in refrigerators to preserve them, or planted and grown for smallholder farmers. This initiative aims to promote agroforestry practices, combat drought, restore habitat, and sequester carbon through the distribution of these seedlings.


Does the AFCC programme fit the Foundation’s new strategy?

The Foundation wants to act as a catalyst in addressing the glaring gap in financing for climate adaptation*. In many parts of the world, communities need to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Without help, more and more people are at the mercy of shocks like floods and droughts, but also slow-moving disasters such land degradation and increasing water insecurity.

With the right planning and oversight, projects that tap voluntary carbon markets while also safeguarding people and nature can deliver significant support for climate adaptation on large scales and over long timeframes, and we are optimistic that our support to various organisations working in this area will help us toward this goal.

*The primary goal of the AFCC is climate mitigation. Adaptation outcomes are co-benefits.



Photo Credits: Courtesy of TNC and C.Guerin