Investment vs ban aimed at reducing environmental degradation

Mukau plantation in Kiambere site

Uganda

With the standing ban on export of forest products within the East African Community, which was aimed at reducing environmental degradation in the region. Busoga Forestry Company is engaged in commercial tree production, with over 65,000 acres in Mayuge and Zombo districts. The poles harvested are used for electricity poles with the off cuts being used for the manufacture of charcoal, showing that the charcoal can be produced commercially without degrading the environment. The standoff is the National Forestry Authority(NFA) issued a licence to export the charcoal but so far Busoga Forestry Company has failed to get an export certificate, where the Minister of  Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde was wondering how that happened with the ban still on. The issue here is the distinction between a byproduct and a product, Busoga Forestry Company is using a byproduct (off cuts) of a legal product (poles) with which they have all the blessing to manufacture by the government. As trade is promoted the policy regime should be over hauled to prevent companies to utilize loopholes to degrade the environment. 

Kenya

There are 5 indigenous mountains forests, providing about 75% of Kenya’s renewable surface water. There has been loss of 28,400 hectares trees between 2000 and 2010, due to land grabbing by the politically powerful people. Reduced water supply for irrigation in agriculture and hydropower generation due to deforestation has cost Kenya $68 million in 2010.  There has been focus of rehabilitating indigenous forests but the Kenya Forest Service and UNEP have advised otherwise. Private tree growing for charcoal and timber should be encouraged to increase forest cover rather than rehabilitation of indigenous forests. The ban was to stop logging in Kenya’s plantation forests it took effect in 1999 to try to stop rampant tree cover loss. After 2 years it was overturned because it lead to increased illegal extraction and loss of jobs.

Tanzania

Tanzania has heard 2 bans of export of logs and suspending of tree harvesting in protected natural forests. The first ban was between October 2004 and August 2006 and aimed at safeguarding endangered species. The second ban of January 2006 was due to unsustainable timber harvesting and their transportation with forged permits. This lead to heated reactions from timber exporters because an estimated loss of $4.6 million was envisaged.  The forestry sector is facing challenges because private forestry has failed to keep up with the demand for fuel wood and timber, leading to as supply deficit of 22 million per cubic meter. There is weak regulation which has led to unsustainable exploitation of natural forests, where 400,000 hectares are lost per year.  Industrialization, economic growth, rising population and agricultural expansion is contributing to the loss of forest cover.

Rwanda

Rwanda has original rainforest with new plantations, native plant species can be found in forest reservations. Agricultural terraces are dominated by eucalyptus trees planted around them despite their much need of water which has brought controversy leading to arguments like they are fast growing trees. The war left the landscape deforested where refugees would cut trees for fuel wood and shelter this led to silting of lakes in the west and southern part of Rwanda.

Burundi

Recently the government of Burundi banned a group of farmers in the Cibitoke province from Kibira forest reserve, which is a mountain forest of 40,000 hectares. During the civil war that lasted a decade had part of the forest was destroyed as security forces asked people around to clear parts of forest near roads where rebels were suspected to be hiding. In 2005 the government banned the cutting of trees for natural Christmas trees, hoping that would reduce the annual loss of 80,000 conifers which later amounts to 80 hectares of forest.


By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL 
Consultant

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