Cross border illegal loggers face new obstacle in Tanzania Mozambique forest agreement
The memorandum of understanding between the National Directorate of Land and Forests of Mozambique (DNTF) and the Forestry and Beekeeping Division (FBD) of Tanzania outlines cooperative measures to help improve the management of critical natural resources such as forests and wildlife in the two countries, and to increase the economic and livelihood benefits that such resources bring to the communities
The MOU is the result of a years’ work by the signatories and the WWF, which facilitated exchange visits and organized several meetings. It is also expected to open the doors for greater cooperation and exchange of experience in issues such as community forest management and REDD.
“The signing of this MOU will benefit the people of Tanzania and Mozambique who will have increased access to benefits from forest and wildlife resources which are currently absorbed by illegal activities run by a very small group of people,” said Rito Mabunda, WWF Mozambique’s Forest Programme Coordinator.
“With the reduction of illegal activities and improved collection of fees and taxes from timber going to government instead of unscrupulous illegal timber dealers, more resources will become available to Government to improve local education and health infrastructure.
“Also, the development of income generating activities will mean that more income will flow to local communities.”
Following numerous meetings and consultations it was decide that the management of forest resources required a coordinated approach based on education, research and trade and law enforcement in forest resources.
The coordinated efforts between Mozambique and Tanzania are expected to bring about significant strides in the management of forests, increasing benefits to the population of the two countries from the implementation of REDD and other carbon credit projects and improving the management of high value conservation areas.
Provisions within the MOU to deal with illegal cross border logging include establishing joint law enforcement units within the boundaries, sharing intelligence and establishing check-points in the border areas.
An assessment of the scale of illegal cross border timber is currently ongoing but there is evidence that the illegal timber trade is significant.
Currently, over 20 million people live in and along coastal forests and landscapes in Eastern Africa and their survival is highly dependent on the availability of basic natural resources such as timber and fuel wood.
The dependency on such resources and the consequent exploitation is destroying the very basis of their existence.
The pressures are rapidly rising as the population is expected to double by 2030 putting even more of a strain on the already meagre natural resources in the region.
Increased regional cooperation on sustainable forest management is critical to mitigating these pressures, according to WWF.