Saadani National Park was gazetted in 2005 after a long process of land assembly. During that process many local people were moved out of the park or gave up village lands or lands and resources used for subsistence activities with the promise of access to benefits from park conservation activities including jobs and income from tourism. The villages surrounding Saadani National Park unanimously agree that negotiated promises have not been fulfilled and that they are not benefitting from the park or the conservation activities in the area.
TANAPA also has an expressed policy commitment to community outreach – improving benefits to communities as a good neighbour policy. Reviews of this policy and program effort have consistently indicated poor performance in implementing the aims of the program.
Local people have very limited understanding of the model of conservation that the park has imposed on their area and relations with TANAPA, the park agency, have been exceedingly strained. There is little respect for the park as a result, one consequence of which is that poaching is significant. For example, recently the villages of Mkange Ward presented a list of complaints to TANAPA which included beatings of local people by park rangers and alleged fictitious charges being brought against residents. The situation is serious.
There is a significant need for much greater public awareness concerning conservation and the roles and responsibilities of both public agencies and the public in ensuring effective conservation and the realization of significant community development benefits from conservation. Communities need to more effectively plan livelihood activities that integrate with natural resource management policies now influencing the region.