Other Forest-Risk Commodities
Illegal logging is a growing feature of transnational organized crime in Africa, often facilitated by the collusion of senior officials, with far-reaching security and environmental implications for the countries affected.
A new report by Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has explored the detrimental impacts of these unsustainable practices on the environment, local communities, and the economy.
Illegal logging, charcoal burning, and firewood trade in Kenya remain one of the major challenges in a bid to improve forest cover.
Kenya’s government is illegally evicting hunter-gatherers from their ancestral lands to profit from carbon offsetting schemes, human rights lawyers say.
Hundreds of members of the Ogiek community are being evicted from the Mau Forest, say their representatives.
Ogiek leader Daniel Kobei said armed forest rangers were “pulling down the houses with axes and hammers”.
Kenya’s government says such operations are to protect the environment.
Long-running tensions between the community and the Kenyan government resurfaced this month when rangers from Kenya’s wildlife and forest services began forcing the Ogiek out of their homes in the Mau forest. Community leaders estimate roughly 400 houses have been demolished, leaving families displaced or seeking shelter from recent rains in makeshift structures.
New satellite data shows ongoing tree cover loss in Kenya’s largest water catchment, the Mau Forest, despite protection efforts.
More than 19% of tree cover was lost between 2001 and 2022, mostly due to agriculture.
Unclear boundaries and limited enforcement allow illegal logging and agricultural expansion to continue, degrading protected reserves.
Environment and Lands Court has declared President William Ruto’s directive to allow logging in forests across the country illegal and unconstitutional.
In a judgment issued by Justice Oscar Angote yesterday, the court concurred with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) arguments that Ruto’s order that lifted a countrywide ban on logging was done illegally without following the due process because public participation was not conducted.
Environment CS Soipan Tuya has announced the purge against illegal loggers will proceed as planned. “We have come to witness the Chief Conservator of Forests issue show case letters and taking of disciplinary steps for forest officers who have been under investigation over the past months following intelligence reports,” Tuya said.
Ruto pointed to reports of rampant illegal logging, encroachment and other related illegal activities, some of which he stated are being aided and abetted by the KFS management and staff.
Kenya’s Environment and Land Court (ELC) August 3, 2023 issued interim orders against the policy directive by President William Ruto in July 2023 lifting a moratorium on logging pending the hearing and determination of the case.
The court ordered a 14-day stay on President Ruto’s repeal of a logging moratorium introduced in 2018 to curb the rapid disappearance of forests.
African foresters want a change in government policies to allow easier trade in timber, taking advantage of available forests and to weed out exploitative trade routes.
They argue that archaic laws are, in fact, fuelling illegal harvesting and sale of trees which in turn cause losses to revenue agencies.
Studies commissioned by the African Forest Forum revealed that Africa’s export challenges in the forestry sector are complex.
The research papers uncovered a scarcity of documented trade data on forest products occurring between borders, for example.
They showed that the quantities and sales remain unknown, highlighting the concealed opportunity for governments to generate significant revenue.
According to Dr Cheboiwo, efforts have been made to condemn illegal logging activities, but less attention has been given towards implementing reforms.
It was the news Kenya’s timber industry had waited over five years to hear: a ban on logging was over, and the country’s forests were once again open for business. But conservationists were dismayed at the announcement in July by President William Ruto, who had cast himself as a champion of the environment, and made planting 15 billion trees a centerpiece of his climate change agenda. The government defended lifting the ban, insisting that only mature trees in state-run plantations would be felled, and that Kenya’s most biodiverse and carbon-rich wild forests would remain untouched.
The explanation did little to quash charges of hypocrisy, with Ruto just weeks away from hosting a international climate conference in Nairobi.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya has ordered the Kenya Forest Service to mount a nationwide crackdown on illegal logging, encroachment and charcoal burning, which she blamed for the recent spike in forest fires.
Speaking on Friday at a press briefing, CS Tuya cautioned communities living adjacent to public forests against engaging in illegal forest activities and asked them to be the first line of defence for Kenya’s forests.
Drawing from Center fro Africa Strategic Stiudies recent report, which is based on recent research and programmatic work at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, we have analyzed three ways that illegal logging affects national security and what that means for current measures to counter it.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and local leaders have banned the charcoal trade, but in a country with a booming population, and where only 1.7 million of about eight million households are connected to grid electricity, charcoal for cooking is too precious.
A politician recently launched a campaign against the runaway illegal charcoal trade in the region, and a growing number of local and anti-charcoal vigilantes are emerging to enforce bans on the trade.
The Acholi region, where Gulu is, currently supplies a considerable chunk of the charcoal consumed in Uganda cities such as Kampala. Ugandan charcoal is also in big demand in Kenya, and a lucrative legal and illegal cross-border trade in the commodity thrives.
Forest fires, drought, logging and encroachment have been cited as some of the challenges that have hampered the achievement of 10 per cent tree cover in the country. Kenya Wildlife Service senior assistant director in charge of the mountain conservation area George Nagwala on Friday said the Aberdare ecosystem is coming out of a very serious fire season.
Lari — Forest authorities say Kenya’s scheme to let farmers grow crops in forests has slashed illegal logging, as the country aims for 10% of its land in trees by the end of the year
Kenya wants to increase tree cover from 7% to 10% by end of year
Farmers in forests make extra income, drive off illegal loggers
Some farmers are frustrated by limits on what they can grow
In November, a Kenyan court ordered the release of 646 metric tons of Malagasy rosewood (Dalbergia spp.), worth up to $13 million, to a Hong Kong-based company from which it had been seized in 2014 by Kenyan authorities.
Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.
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