Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Isle authorities slack to curb tree-felling: Expert

The uncontrolled felling of forests have attracted the attention of players in such a way that they have appealed to the government authorities in Lindi region and Zanzibar to take stern measures against people who are engaged in illegal wanton cutting down of trees and export of timber and charcoal. This was revealed in Morogoro recently during a workshop which was reviewing the first report of the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Project which is being carried in some regions. The two day workshop was organized by the Tanzanian Community Forest Conservation Network (MJUMITA). Speaking at the forum, a participant identified as Omar Kijiwile, said the illegal cutting down of trees in Kilwa area has been fuelled by the demand in Zanzibar since there are less restrictions there. He said Kilwa District has a lot of forests but the acts of wanton felling of trees have been on an increase due to the high demand from Zanzibar. "As you know, Zanzibar does not have many reserved forests like us, but unfortunately authorities in the Isles do not take enough measures to curb culprits as a result the acts of tree-felling has been increasing," he said. Kijiwile said if the situation is left unsolved it might turn Kilwa District into a dry land area. "Time has come now for the relevant authorities in Zanzibar and Kilwa District to sit down and discuss the matter which in the long run might affect the lives of Kilwa residents," he cautioned. He said the government authorities in Kilwa District must implement the forest protection legislation which prevents illegal movements of wood and take stern measures against culprits. “The laws are there but I have never heard any people taken to task for illegal cutting down of trees in Kilwa or Zanzibar,” he said. Speaking earlier, an official from World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Ali Salum said joint efforts are needed to make sure that people living around forest areas benefit from the resources. "This is the only way which might ensure the conservation of the forests since people would benefit from the resources in different ways," he said. He said the REDD trial programme which has kicked off in various places under the funding of Norway Government, if properly used would help to minimize or reduce the illegal cutting down of trees. "What we need here is full participation of communities (including MJUMITA) and those living around the forest to conserve trees for their benefit and the nation as a whole," he stated. In his comments Charles Meshack from Tanzania Forests Conservation Group (TFCG) emphasised on joint forests management between the local government authorities and societies. "We have to educate the society about this collaboration which at end of the day benefits both parties", he said. He said societies must also be educated on the best way of cutting down of trees and collecting at one point. “Normally people have been cutting down trees without knowing that they kill other small trees or collecting trees in bulk hence destroying the environment and other species,” he stressed.


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