East Africa Reaffirms Efforts to Combat Illegal Timber Trade
Representatives from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania announced their intention to work with one another and INTERPOL to combat the illegal timber trade, which has become a massive problem for East Africa.
Earlier this week at the first United National Environment Assembly (UNEA), INTERPOL and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) presented a report detailing the economic and environmental impact environmental crimes are having on the world's developing countries. The report highlighted African countries as most heavily affected by the illegal acquisition and trade of ivory, coal and lumber - with unregulated lumber alone costing the global economy up to an estimated $100 billion. This illegal industry then turns around to fund more criminal activity, including dangerous terrorist and militia groups.
Now three major East African countries have announced "The East Africa Imitative on Illegal Timber Trade and REDD+" - a cross-border initiative to combat this staggering problem.
According to a UNEA press release, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are not only heavily affected by the illegal timber trade, but they are used as key transit countries for the transport of these goods.
Working with INTERPOL, the countries plan to halt this transportation by closing routes and starving the illegal industry.
Both Kenya and Uganda have also adopted strategies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), acknowledging the harmful environmental impact the practice is having on their part of the world.
"Safeguarding the world's forests is not just the most cost-effective way to mitigate climate change," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "Well-managed forests also generate multi-trillion dollar services such as reliable water flow, clean air, sustainable timber products, soil stabilization and nutrient recycling."
"We cannot afford, economically or environmentally, to allow the continued wholesale destruction of one of our planet's most valuable resources," he added. "That is why UNEP applauds ... the firm commitment of the governments of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to help ensure the responsible management of one of the most important sources of inclusive and sustainable economic growth available to us."