Tanzania: Illegal logging and gov’s effort to ‘rescue’ logs?

Illegal logging is threatening and increasingly putting at risk 33.5
million hectares of forest spread all over the country. According to
statistics, Tanzania’s timber exports have grown by 1,400 per cent in
value since 1997. Increased deforestation, for various reasons, led
the government to ban the export of logs in July 2004. However, the
regulations were not effectively enforced and illegal logging
continues almost unabated. It is happening in almost all parts of the
country. In the latest such case, the government has rescued logs
totalling 67.7m/- that were illegally harvested in forest land in
Coast and Dar es Salaam regions.

Forest officers, with the assistance
of the police, seized the logs at various points in the regions. Local
forests provide the essential vegetation cover and have high levels of
biodiversity and many endemic species. It is a system that must not be
tampered with haphazardly. A report estimates that Tanzania lost 54m
dollars a year in 2004 and 2005 in timber revenue, due to bad
governance in the forestry sector.

Corruption has also not been ruled
out. One shudders to think the real extent of illegal logging in all
parts of the country, considering the fact that it is not every time
the forest wardens and the law enforcers are lucky. This necessitates
putting in place better strategies to effectively cope with the
menace, which is economic sabotage at work. As the Deputy Natural
Resources and Tourism Minister, Ezekiel Maige, said on Monday, it is
possible that some people involved in illegal harvesting of the
forests are ignorant of the laws that govern such activity.

Concerned
authorities should thus draw an elaborate publicity campaign aimed at
sensitizing the public on the importance of forest conservation and
authorised harvesting. In addition to that, forest officers should
step up their guard and diligently carry out their duties to protect
the country’s forests from unauthorised logging. Forests and their
products are a dependable source of government revenue and should be
protected at any cost.
http://dailynews.habarileo.co.tz/analysis/index.php?id=9731

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