Tanzania Forest Services,TFS has opened bids by companies seeking contracts to clear 148,000 ha of forestland within the Selous ecosystem, a world heritage site, in preparation for the construction of the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric dam.
The tender document shows that TFS is looking for eligible companies to buy trees with a total volume of about 3.5 million cubic metres in Rufiji district, distributed into six manageable blocks.
TFS chief executive, Prof Dos Santos Silayo, confirmed receiving the bids and said that it signals another step in the implementation of the project that the government says will help solve the country’s power shortage.
According to Energy Minister Medard Kalemani, US $2bn hydropower project, Tanzania’s biggest, will begin in July this year.
The government identified the project to be implemented alongside the US $215m Kidunda Dam within Selous ecosystem. The project will take three years.
According to Asukile Kajuni, a lobbyist, the Unesco Committee had set out several criteria for listing conservation areas into world heritage sites.
He wants the government to conduct a strategic environmental assessment in accordance with the Environmental Management Act of 2004, to determine the possible effect of the development on the environment.
The wildlife conservation group WWF said in its 2017 report that the hydropower project would affect tourism and wildlife conservation in the reserve. Additionally, 200,000 people who farm and fish would also lose their livelihoods.
Germany through Frankfurt Zoological Society and the WWF are key donors to the conservation of Selous Game Reserve through anti-poaching and community outreach programmes. The government released US $21m to help conservation activities in the game reserve.
The World Bank is the other international institution currently funding tourism development in Southern Tanzania under which Selous falls. The project, upon completion, will add 2,100MW to the national grid, bringing the total installed capacity to 3,651MW.