Green Resources Limited (GRL) manages three plantations in the Southern Highlands with 12,682 ha of standing forest on 74,000 ha of land. An additional 21,000 ha of plantations can be established on the existing land areas. The remainder of the land is set aside for conservation purposes, buffer zones and infrastructure or is inaccessible. The land areas set aside for planting are low-value grassland that has almost entirely been acquired from local villages.
The objective is to grow trees for a wide range of forestry products. The Southern Highlands of Tanzania already have East Africa’s largest concentration of plantation forests and the largest wood processing industry. The plantations and industry is focused on Mufindi District, but increasingly also in neighbouring areas, as witnessed by Green Resources’ extensive operations in Kilombero District. The largest forest owner in the region is the government, with its 40,000 ha Sao Hill Forest Plantation, while Mufindi Paper/Tanwat owns more than 10,000 ha of standing forest. There are also a rapidly growing number of smallholder-owned forests. The government forest is over-mature and over-logged, resulting in lower harvesting rates during the last two years. With minimal new planting taking place in the government forest from about 1985 to 2005, there should be a wood shortage in the region from about 2020 onwards.
There is a good road connection to the main population centres in Kenya and Tanzania, which represent the home markets for the Southern Highlands’ wood products. Dar es Salaam port is the export hub. The Southern Highlands have the potential to become a large producer and exporter of wood products. However, the combination of strong regional demand and supply limitations make it likely that most of the products will be sold locally and that East African wood product prices will continue to increase more rapidly than world market prices.
GRL’s planting capacity has increased steadily, reaching a peak of almost 3,000 ha in 2011. New planting in 2012 was reduced to 1,805 ha planted across the three plantations in addition to some re-planting of previously partly-failed plantings. Green Resources has invested significantly in the infrastructure in the Southern Highlands. The state of the art high capacity Makungu tree nursery is the most modern in the region.
The warmer climate and lower altitude of Tanzania’s coastal regions allow for different species to grow, including teak and other high-value hardwoods. After some initial experimentation with teak, Green Resources has decided to focus all operations in this area on eucalyptus, through its subsidiary Lindi Forests Ltd (LFL). The coastal lowlands are well located for supplying the Dar es Salaam metropolis, one of Africa’s largest and fastest growing, and for export.