The Partnerscapes Blog by Steve Jester

An Example of Landscape-Scale Collaborative Conservation Outside the United States – Friends of Usambara

Partnerscapes recently received an email from Nusura Seleman Ramadhan an environmental specialist working with the Friends of Usambara society in Tanzania. The article below is taken directly from the communication from Friends of Usambara. The description of the organization and its work on all three “legs of the stool” (the ecologic, economic and sociologic aspects of a place) is very familiar to Partnerscapes and all others involved in collaborative community-based conservation in this country.


Friends of Usambara Society (FoU) is an exceptionally prolific grassroots non-profit organization based in Lushoto, Tanzania that uses sustainable tourism to preserve the culture and conserve the nature of the Usambara Mountains region. FoU is widely known for its popular Cultural Tourism Program, which attracts hundreds of tourists annually and serves as an avenue for generating resources needed for sustaining FoU’s core organizational activities and community-based projects, which include biodiversity conservation, livelihoods development projects, as well as a direct contribution to specific village development priorities within the watershed/water catchment. This takes the the form of a village development fund (VDF) whereby 20 percent of the business revenue are used to support community-related projects.

Programmatically, FoU is directly involved in community-based environmental awareness creation and education campaigns, large-scale tree planting and agroforestry, protection and regeneration of forests, as well as combating desertification and promotion of sustainable forestry in an effort to slow global climate change. Using its multi-dimensional model, FoU’s sustainable approach to community forestry simultaneously addresses poverty as well as environmental problems.

Currently, Friends of Usambara Society is working with any interested international organization to implement a new tree planting mode that incorporates smart agricultural techniques and technologies easily adaptable by the forgotten peasants in Tanzania.

FoU’s long-time goal is to expand our tree planting operations to different parts of our country in order to combat the impact of deforestation and restore the naturally-occurring African rainforest. The tree planting campaign has created job opportunities for the local people thus improving living conditions through income generation, but the number of employees is controlled by the resources available. FoU currently has enough resources to employ over 100 people in the tree nurseries and planting sites thus changing lives, as most of the employees are women who without this opportunity would be unemployed.

The organization also conducts environmental awareness campaigns, which make the people, who are in this case the main stakeholders, aware of the importance of their natural environment and therefore increase efforts to conserve it. FoU also introduced tree planting campaigns at school where children get to practice tree planting from scratch, such as planting tree seedlings and taking care of tree saplings in the nurseries at their school compounds. FoU believe its legacy and effort should be continuous and thus involve generations by creating this passion from a young age.

Please visit the Friends of Usambara website at