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.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has issued an executive order banning charcoal burning and trade in the in five northern subregions in order to conserve the environment. Museveni also castigated security officers for corruption and for assisting the charcoal business in the region.
Residents of Kei sub-county in Yumbe district have accused security personnel of providing protection to trucks carrying Afzelia Africana logs, making it difficult for the community to intervene.
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.
Lamwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The police in Palabek Gem sub-county, Lamwo district have impounded more than 200 logs of the endangered Afzelia Africana tree species.
The article also states that following a February 24th letter by the Minister of Environment, all forest products still in the Lamwo district are illegal. The impounding of the forest products comes one week after the Minister of State for Water and Environment, Beatrice Atim Anywar, issued a directive directing all the Chief Administrative Officers to recall all produce permit books issued to the district from the Ministry of Water and Environment with immediate effect.
On January 11th, 2023, Anywar first issued a directive banning all documents facilitating the commercial production, trade, and movement of charcoal and other forest products in Gulu district.
The directive followed the growing illegal charcoal production and timber logging, which has led to environmental degradation in the Acholi sub-region. However, leaders in the sub-region suggested that the directive should cover all districts in the Acholi sub-region.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned about an increase in threats to journalists trying to cover illegal logging and deforestation in the Zoka rain forest, in northwestern Uganda’s Adjumani district.
Uganda’s tropical high forests have been declining rapidly and conservationists have been relentless in sounding the alarm over their imminent disappearance in the next two decades unless something is done now.
Despite the directive by police to all units to enforce the suspension, the level of cutting, transportation and trade in afzelia logs has continued. The authorities say dealers now forge South Sudanese documents and bribe officials at border posts in advance before the logs are taken out at night.
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