East African nations join forces to combat illegal timber trade

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UN Photo/UNHCR/Glenna Gordon

Senior government officials from three east African nations have announced their intention to unite efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania not only face challenges of illegal logging within their borders, but they are also used as transit countries for timber illegally logged in other countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC.

Africa’s forest cover is estimated at 675 million hectares, or 23 percent of the continent's total land area.

Lazaro Nyalandu, the Tanzanian Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, spoke at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi.

" I mentioned the establishment of the Tanzanian forest service that is controlling the entire forestry reserves that we have of about 48 million hectares which is a huge resource. And also we have announced the creation of Tanzania Wildlife Authority that is now controlling about 200,000 square kilometres of the wildlife habitat in Tanzania. And these will be two major assets we have to allow the country to work together with the international community both in enforcement but also that the supply side is curtailed.”

Due to illegal logging, 3.4 million hectares were lost annually between 2000 and 2010- the equivalent to an area 322 times the size of Paris or more than 5 million football pitches.

The east African countries will also partner with the UN Environment Programme, UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global International Criminal Police Organization, INTERPOL in this endeavour.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’46″

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