“Our cooperation has lasted for over 40 years, but during the years we have shifted emphasis towards supporting the private sector and value chains, both in plantation forestry and natural forest management and utilisation,’’ said Mr Mykkänen .

He described the co-operation between Finland and Tanzania in the forestry sector as unique in its length and content, noting that the Tanzanian’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzanian Forest Service (TFS), the Civil Society as well as other forest stakeholders have been Finish long–term partners in sustainable forestry development.

The Finish minister was speaking at a two-day Tanzania Plantation Investment Forestry Conference, 2016 that kicked off in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

UONGOZI Institute, FINFUND and the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism co-organised the conference that ends today. UONGOZI Institute Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Professor Joseph Semboja said the conference that drew participants from sixteen countries had to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities in the forestry industry, adding that the meeting also aimed at discussing how to promote commercial forestry plantation in Tanzania.

“Many private sector representatives have arrived at this conference from all over Africa and the world and they will have enough time to explore business opportunities to invest on long-term,’’ said the CEO.

The Managing Director of the New Forests Company, Mr Julian Ozanne called on the Tanzanian government to improve governance and business climate. “For the forestry industry to prosper in the country, we should have a level playing field,’’ he insisted.

Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Professor Jumanne Maghembe said currently, Tanzania has about 643,000 hectres of forest plantation area under government, private sector as well as private medium and small sized farmers.

“Yet, the plantation area is not at all enough to satisfy the rapidly increasing demand for sawn timber, wooden panels, paper and cardboard products for the next 10 to 15 years,’’ he said.

Professor Maghembe said the combined annual value of forest goods and services is estimated at 2.2 billion US dollars (over 4.4trillion/-) which is equivalent to 20.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The sector’s contribution to the economy is increasing at a fast rate owing to increasing demand for forest goods and services, macroeconomic changes and globalisation,’’ said the minister, adding that the sector is estimated to provide about three million jobs.

(This article was originally published by Katare Mbashiru on the Daily News, 16 November 2016)