Tanzania and Kenya sign MoU on forest matters
The chief executive officer of the Tanzania Forest Service Juma S Mgoo (2nd Left) Kenyan Forest Service Acting Director Emilio N Mugo (2nd R) sign the MoU in Arusha
Tanzania and Kenya have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the new forest cooperation agreement, which is set to improve the effectiveness of measures to tackle the rampant illegal logging and timber trade across the border. The MoU between the two governments was signed through their respective forest agencies in Arusha, Tanzania.
Speaking during the signed ceremony the chief executive officer of the Tanzania Forest Service, Juma S Mgoo, said that the signed MoU aimed at improving forest management and governance as pertains to trans-boundary trade in forest products. It will also improve coordination on forest products’ law enforcement, information sharing and joint capacity building.
Mgoo said Tanzania’s forests were under increasing pressure and their degradation threatens to hurt the economy and negatively impact the quality of life for most Tanzanians – especially those living in rural areas.
He said the information on wood supply in the country shows that allowable cut in production forests in 2013 was estimated at 42.8 million cubic metres per annum, while the annual wood demand stands at 62.3 million cubic metres per year, thus making the wood deficit of about 19.5 million cubic metres per year.
Illegal harvesting in protection and production forests is contributing to the national annual deforestation rate of 372 000ha that adds to this deficit of utilised wood.
Citing a study on “The Trade in Forest Products between Tanzania and Kenya”, carried out in 2011 by the East Africa Wildlife Society in partnership with the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum, Mgoo said that the study revealed that Tanzania might have lost revenues estimated at USD8.33 million annually among others 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 borders.
On the other hand, the study revealed that the poorly regulated trade in forest products between Kenya and Tanzania only amounted to a loss of USD 10,000 annually to Kenya. 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.
As such, Trans- boundary illegal trade in timber has been undermining forest conservation and government revenue collection efforts.
In response to this illegal trade and mitigate further negative environmental and social impacts of the illegal forest products trade in the region, on 10 December 2013, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania through the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) Agency under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the Government of Kenya through the Kenya Forest Service agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that has been signed today to achieve a sustainable forest management and legal trade in forest products.
For his part, WWF Tanzania Country Director Dr Amani Ngusaru field observations and records in Tanzania showed that revenue loss could be attributed to undervaluation of forest products in recorded data in export documents against the actual value of products exported.
According to the same study it was estimated that Tanzania has been losing USD8.3 million annually due to under-evaluation of timber and poles, unrecorded volumes of timber, illegal charcoal business and harvesting and sales of logs.
“Such a loss is unacceptable considering that this is money we need to build our schools, hospitals and other social amenities,” he said.
He noted that although the Forest Law -2000, Forest Act -2005, Timber Act-Cap 386 and regulations that are under the administration of Tanzania and Kenya Forest Services’ exist to provide the overarching framework for the regulation of forest products at the border’s points.
Ngusaru further noted that the same study alluded to earlier found the application of the aforementioned laws wanting. “These laws were found to have limited application and are not followed at all.”
We are here today to witness the signing of an MoU on timber trade between the two countries, which has a great potential to mitigate further negative environmental and social impacts of the illegal forest products trade in the region,” he explained.
Kenyan Forest Service Acting Director Emilio N Mugo, who signed the MoU on behalf of his government, said that the agreement was the result of several years’ work by the signatories, WWF and TRAFFIC, which facilitated exchange visits and organised several meetings.
“It outlines cooperative measures to help improve the management of critical forest resources in the two countries,” he noted. Over time, concern has been growing over the expansion of illegal trade in forest products across the borders between Tanzania and Kenya.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, the total forest area within Tanzania is estimated at 38.8 million hectares, which is equivalent to 41 percent of the country’s landmass.
Source: Tanzania Forest Services Agency (Edited)