I set myself a mini project over the last week to visualise the distribution of community forests in Tanzania by region using an interactive map. This wasn’t actually the original goal but things got a little complicated! As I’m relatively new to coding and GIS I wanted to keep things simple.

Village Land Forest Reserve (VLFR) is the formal name given to forests owned and managed by villages in Tanzania. The figures used in the map aggregate the “declared” and “gazetted” VLFRs. It seems that most villages choose not to go through the voluntary gazettement process as it’s complex and the difference in legal powers are very unclear (Akida & Blomley 2008). Of the 720 VLFRs, only 67 are formally gazetted.

The data for the map come from the most recent source of participatory forest management facts and figures in Tanzania that I could find. These were published in 2020 by the Forest and Value Chains Development Programme (FORVAC) – funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA Finland) and implemented under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania.

I made the map using the leaflet package in R after it was recommended by some very helpful LANDteam colleagues. I found a couple of the videos in this series really helpful getting to grips with the package.