By the same authors

Tobacco cultivation as a driver of land use change and degradation in the miombo woodlands of south-west Tanzania

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Publication details

JournalLand Degradation and Development
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Sep 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Nov 2017
Issue number8
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)2636-2645
Original languageEnglish


Miombo woodlands support agriculture, biodiversity, and multiple ecosystem services across an extensive part of sub-Saharan Africa. Miombo is frequently overutilised with deforestation and degradation resulting in significant land use and land cover change (LULCC). Understanding the drivers of LULCC is essential to achieving sustainable land management in miombo woodland regions. Within a remote miombo area of south-west Tanzania in the Kipembawe Division, Mbeya Region, social survey and ecological data were used to identify the direct and indirect drivers of LULCC. Our findings show that tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) production results in an estimated annual deforestation rate of 4,134 ± 390 ha of undisturbed miombo woodland, of which 56.3 ± 11.8% is linked to the post-harvest curing process. This deforestation represents 0.55 ± 0.06% of the wooded area of the Kipembawe Division. The perception of high incomes from tobacco cultivation has encouraged migration of both agriculturalists and pastoralists into the area, resulting in higher livestock numbers that lead to further degradation. Higher human populations need more woodland resources such as fuelwood and building materials and more farmland for food crops. Continued deforestation will reduce the long-term profitability of tobacco cultivation due to a lack of fuel to cure the crop and could render production unviable. Action is urgently needed to conserve globally important biodiversity resources while enabling agricultural and pastoral activities to continue. Improved governance, together with sustainable land management strategies and diversification of livelihood strategies, can reduce dependence on tobacco cultivation and contribute to a sustainable future for this ecoregion.

Bibliographical note

© 2017 The Authors

    Research areas

  • biodiversity, carbon, in-migration, mixed methods, pastoralism

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