Tuesday
Sep032013

Tanzania develops “timber trade checklist”

Illegal logging operations cost the country dearly © TRAFFIC

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Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, September 2013—Representatives of the private timber trade sector in Tanzania, together with enforcement agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations met last week during a forum hosted by TRAFFIC to develop a “timber trade checklist” for Tanzania.

The checklist is aimed at improving interagency collaboration, compliance and transparency in Tanzania’s timber trade. It will be made available in late September 2013 and will form the basis for training of relevant enforcement personnel to implement timber trade regulations.

The two day meeting included representatives from Kenwood Ent Tanzania LTD, SHIVIMITA – the Tanzania Forest Industries Association (representing 1000 members in the timber business), the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau, INTERPOL, the Tanzania Revenue Authority, Police, Tanzania Forest Service National Task Force on Timber Trafficking, TRAFFIC, WWF, Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT), Mpingo Conservation Development Initiative, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum and Mama Misitu Campaign, who funded the event.

It was the first time all these agencies had sat down together to discuss the country’s timber trade.

Participants examined in detail the entire timber trade chain within the country, from source to export, noting particularly the places where more attention was needed and where it would have greatest impact in ensuring the legality and sustainability of timber trade supplies, while ensuring timber custodians received fair compensation for their natural resources. The deliberations will now be used to create a checklist of the key intervention points along the trade chain and the actions needed at each.

“The meeting organized by TRAFFIC in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was very useful in bringing key stakeholders to deliberate on the critical aspects of continued loss of public revenues due to some forest product traders not willing to comply to state laws and regulations,” said Dr Felician Kilahama, Chairman, Committee on Forestry (COFO) FAO who was a participant at the meeting.

“Also inadequate sector capacity and corrupt practices make the situation worse.  The meeting on the 28–29th August 2013 is a good way forward to address issues of non-compliance in forest products trade for the benefit of the country and her citizens and global communities.”

The meeting was part of TRAFFIC’s ongoing work on the timber trade in the region, and Tanzania in particular.

Earlier in the month, TRAFFIC highlighted results from a rapid assessment of the scale of illegal trade across the porous border with Mozambique, which results in the loss of millions of dollars in government revenue. Discussions at an intergovernmental meeting to examine the findings centred around the implications for implementation of a recently signed memorandum of understanding between the two countries, on co-operation to address enforcement issues within the timber trade sector.

Such interagency meetings have been backed up by other initiatives within the Tanzania timber trade sector, including the training of 97 checkpoint staff from four southern districts, and the distribution of hundreds of manuals, written in both English and Kiswahili, to improve timber identification skills to assist enforcement activities.

The groundwork for TRAFFIC’s input into addressing timber trade issues in Tanzania was laid through the publication, in 2007, of Forestry, governance and national development: Lessons learned from a logging boom in southern Tanzania (PDF, 4.8 MB) the seminal investigation into the country’s timber trade, which revealed weaknesses in governance of the timber trade sector and the consequent loss of revenues to governments and local communities in particular.

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