DAR ES SALAAM
(Xinhua) -- A new report released on Thursday
highlighted challenges facing timber trading nations in eastern
and southern Africa, in particular the need for improving trade
monitoring, financial integrity and addressing issues related to
politics and corruption.
The report, jointly authored by
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, and World
Wildlife Fund (WWF), was launched as representatives from across
the region met in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to discuss
implementation of the Zanzibar Declaration on illegal trade in
timber and other forest products.
The Declaration was signed in 2015 as
part of an initiative to address rampant illegal timber trade in
eastern and southern Africa under the umbrella of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) and the Eastern African
Key among the recommendations from the
new report are calls for full government participation in
forest-related multilateral agreements, such as those under SADC
and EAC, to address issues undermining legal timber production.
The report urged SADC and EAC
Secretariats to collaborate to capture information from
government forestry, revenue collection, customs, and ports
authorities and make the data publicly available.
“Collection of appropriate and
adequate data is an essential pre-requisite for management
of timber resources, and maintaining these in an open and
transparent manner is a sound basis for ensuring timber
trade is carried out legally and sustainably,” said Julie
Thomson, TRAFFIC Head of Office in East Africa.
The report said the trade in natural
forest timber was worth tens of millions of dollars in the last
decade and is increasing, with domestic consumption, although
poorly monitored, estimated to be more than ten times the
volumes exported internationally.
It said the majority of timber imports
to the region comprise coniferous sawn timber and eucalyptus
Most of the countries also import
processed forest products, mostly paper, plywood and fibreboard,
furniture, doors, fittings and joinery, with South Africa,
Kenya, China, and India dominating the market, said the report.
However, the report noted that despite
existing policies, laws and international protocols, most
forestry departments in the region do not have adequate capacity
to routinely monitor the industry.
“This week, governments have a golden
opportunity to ensure the right measures are put in place
and widely adopted to control timber trade flows within and
from the region,” said Geofrey Mwanjela, Eastern Africa
Forest Coordinator for WWF.
“It’s in everyone’s best interests to
ensure a fair, equitable and sustainable timber trade
becomes the norm in eastern and southern Africa,” added
East African countries review
implementation of deal on illegal timber trade