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Eastern and Southern African countries sign deal to curb illegal timber trade

Staff writer ▼ | September 10, 2015
The national forest agencies of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar and Mozambique signed a declaration to jointly combat illegal timber trade in Eastern and Southern Africa, taking a significant step towards addressing this growing driver of forest loss.
African timber
Nature   Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar and Mozambique
"WWF welcomes the Zanzibar Declaration on Illegal Trade in Timber and Other Forest Products, the first such agreement of its kind in the region. The declaration comes at a crucial time. Illegal trade in timber is expanding at an alarming rate and this new commitment by governments will greatly amplify efforts to reduce such trade at the regional level," said Geofrey Mwanjela, WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative Head of Terrestrial Programme.

The declaration was signed at a side event in Durban, South Africa, at the XIV World Forestry Congress, one of the largest gatherings of world forestry leaders. The event was facilitated by WWF, TRAFFIC, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"The Zanzibar Declaration signals a firm commitment by the five countries concerned to curtail the illegal and unsustainable timber trade that is benefitting criminals and depleting the natural resources of the region," said Julie Thomson, TRAFFIC's East Africa Programme Co-ordinator.

There is growing intra-regional and inter-regional illegal trade of timber and other forest products flowing across Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, as well as further towards the Western and Central Africa termed Africa's 'Green Heart.'

Kenya loses roughly $10 million per year from illegal cross-border trade between Tanzania and Kenya, according to a 2012 study by the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum and East African Wild Life Society. Tanzania loses around $8.33 million annually from such trade, according to a similar government report.

The alarming growth in illegal timber trade challenges the effectiveness of current national and regional mechanisms to control illegality.