Research Helps Protect Habitats and Support Communities in Tanzania


In 2020, JGI completed one of its largest socio-economic baseline research studies to support its USAID-funded Landscape Conservation in Western Tanzania (LCWT) program. The study, which focused on the Gombe-Masito-Ugalla (GMU) landscape, investigated ways to protect habitats while supporting human communities.  

This work is a part of JGI’s Tacare approach. It all began when in the early 90s, Jane was in a small airplane flying over Gombe. When she looked down, she was shocked by what she saw. Hill after hill had been stripped of its dense blanket of trees; they were completely bare. The home of the precious chimpanzees was disappearing before her eyes. She saw only one solution: efforts to conserve chimpanzees and their habitats must happen through working with and empowering local people – not just as participants, but as leaders and stewards of their lands to achieve a sustainable future. This is Tacare.  

The Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education (TACARE) program was designed as a pilot project to protect chimpanzees outside National Parks by addressing poverty and supporting sustainable livelihoods in villages around Lake Tanganyika.  Now known as Tacare, it represents the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) community-centered conservation approach. The Tacare philosophy is based on the principle that local people are the most connected to and dependent on healthy landscapes and ecosystem services. Tacare also acknowledges that though local people are the most impacted and vulnerable when ecosystem services disappear, they are also the best stewards of their own environment, and that every community member can make a difference every day. Beyond just collaboration, Tacare is about local ownership of the process of human development and managing local environments. 

Hafsa Ramadhan is a village nursery attendant in Makongoro Village where she grows passion fruit, mandarin oranges, mangos, beans, pines and massopsis.

According to this new LCWT socioeconomic survey conducted in 2020, systemic poverty, limited educational opportunities, and poor infrastructure are barriers for all members of the community to play an active role in natural resource management, and according to the report, women must overcome many more obstacles than men. However, several important opportunities emerged. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they would feel badly if the forest disappeared, and many of those surveyed were aware of more sustainable actions such as regulating tree cutting, banning charcoal burning, guarding the forest, and collecting only dry firewood. Most individuals understood the benefits of land-use planning, and roughly half had some knowledge of family planning and approved of its use.  

With these findings, LCWT can better advance Tacare through sustainable livelihood support, trainings, and campaigns to best serve the needs of local communities while advancing conservation goals.  

Learn more about Tacare in our storymap here.

About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Director of Storytelling & Marketing for Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is pursuing a Master's of Science in Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including 10+ years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking organizations, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces including Greens REALIGN. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to transform hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.