Tanzania-Kenya sign agreement to check illegal timber trade
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Kenya Forest Service and the Tanzania Forest Service outlines cooperative measures to help improve the management of critical forests resources in the two countries.
Speaking on 24th March, 2015 in Arusha, Tanzania during the signing ceremony for the MOU, the Chief Executive of Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) Mr. Juma S. Mgoo noted that the implementation of the MOU would, over the next five-years, focus on trans-boundary collaboration around law enforcement to reduce illegal trade in forest resources such as timber and charcoal.
“This is the beginning and we hope that in five years, all the areas identified by the MOU will be fully implemented. We aim to focus on undertaking joint law enforcement activities and exchanging information of trade and harvesting operations between both countries. The purpose of this is to ensure that there is compliance on both sides by traders in Tanzania and Kenya with laws and regulations regarding the management and utilization of forest resources” said Mr. Mgoo
On his part, the Acting Director of Kenya Forest Services Emilio N. Mugo noted, “This MOU is an effort to manage our forest resources in a more sustainable manner together with our counterparts in Tanzania. We have together agreed to coordinate our monitoring and law enforcement activities and share information regarding trade in forest products along with taping into the knowledge base of forest related products available in both our countries.”
The MOU is the result of several years’ work by the signatories, WWF and TRAFFIC, which facilitated exchange visits and organized several meetings.
“We expect that the signing of this MOU will benefit the people of Kenya and Tanzania who deserve increased access and benefits from forest resources which are currently absorbed by illegal activities run by a very small group of people,” said WWF Tanzania Country Director Dr. Amani Ngusaru.
Over time, concern has been growing over the expansion of illegal trade in forest products across the borders between Tanzania and Kenya. Between May and October 2011, a study carried out by the East Africa Wildlife Society in partnership with the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum entitled “The Trade in Forest Products Between Tanzania and Kenya,” revealed that Tanzania might have lost revenues estimated at USD 8.33 million annually due to inaccurate recording of figures and volumes of forest products, under-valuation of timber and poles, illegal charcoal business and illegal harvesting and sales of logs moving across boarders.
The study also established that considerable movement of timber and other forest related products across the border is carried out at the border points of Horohoro/Lunga Lunga, Holili/Taveta and Namanga but with numerous illegal crossing points present in both Kenya and Tanzania.
By John Kabubu for WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative Communications