Essay: Tanzanian population

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  • Subject area(s): Geography essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
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  • Published on: November 15, 2017
  • File format: Text
  • Number of pages: 2
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Population increase, agricultural productivity and environmental degradation have characterized many developing countries including Tanzania. These trends have negatively impacted on development and natural resources, amidst the increasing demand for resources in the wake of ever increasing population. Environmental degradation in several parts of Tanzania not only affects biodiversity but also has a direct impact on water quantity and quality, livelihood, poverty and development of a nation.
 
The Tanzanian population increased from about 12 million people in 1967 to 44.9 million in 2012, almost four times. With the annual growth rate of 2.7 percent, Tanzania’s population is projected to reach 69.1 and 129.1 million in 2025 and 2050 respectively [1]. Population growth, in both rural and urban areas, is the underlying factor behind rapid rates of deforestation in Tanzania. Population growth escalates the requirement for basic needs such as food, shelter, infrastructure development, fuelwood, furniture, construction materials and other products. In meeting these accumulating demands, deforestation is inevitable. The impact of population growth on deforestation is worsened by the reality that the growing population remains in poverty with limited livelihood strategies and, therefore, compelled to undertake unsustainable economic options including deforestation.

Tanzania is facing an unprecedented loss of its forests and other woodlands. Over the last three decades, blocks of forests in Tanzania have been heavily impacted by official forest excisions as well as illegal, irregular and unplanned settlements. Evaluation of vegetation cover change based on time-series satellite images and repeated aerial surveys showed that between 1990 and 2010, the country lost an average of 403,350 ha or 0.97 percent per year and also, between 1990 and 2010 the total loss was estimated to be 19.4 percent (about 8,067,000 ha) of the forest cover [2]. Within this period, Tanzania was, among the ten countries that had the largest annual net loss of forest area. A recent report indicates that the country had already lost about 38 percent of its forest cover [3]. According to the report, the rate of loss is 400,000 ha per annum and, the risk is deemed high as the country’s entire forests can be depleted within the next 50 to 80 years if the current trend remains unabated.

Although there are information gaps for some disciplines on a sustained basis, already links have been suggested between population growth, land cover change, land degradation and an acute shortage of water [4]. Among the reasons for desertification caused by population growth are deforestation, overgrazing and overcultivation. Expansion of agriculture, especially the massive clearance of land for cultivation of cash crops such as cotton and tobacco to increase export earnings has been mentioned as one of the leading causes of deforestation in Tanzania [5].

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