The New Times (Kigali)

31 May 2013

East Africa: EAC Moots Improvement of Regional Forestry, Trade

Member states of the East African Community are preparing a framework to improve forest governance and trade in the bloc, according to a statement by the Lake Victoria basin commission (LVBC).

Since Tuesday, experts from partner states are meeting at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, to prepare an elaborate action plan to improve Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade in the region.

The three-day workshop reportedly comes in the wake of indications that the bloc is losing substantial amounts in revenue due to illegal trade in forest products.

A new study commissioned by the LVBC and launched at the opening of the workshop indicates that non-compliance with Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) is a major cause of revenue losses.

Entrenching principles:

The study titled "A Socio-economic Valuation of Losses from Non-Compliance with Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade in East African Community Partner States" identifies some of the causes of revenue losses as inadequate institutional capacity; weak law enforcement capabilities and arrangements; corruption and bribery; adhoc rules and regulations; poor pricing; as well as inconsistent rates in revenue collection.

During the workshop, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Judy Wakhungu, said partner states undertook legislative and policy development initiatives to entrench the principles of sustainable natural resources management.

Tools included establishing the Protocol for Sustainable Development of Lake Victoria Basin and the Protocol on Environment and Natural Resource Management.

Wakhungu hailed the LVBC for initiating and moving forward the FLEGT process for the benefit of the bloc.

The LVBC Executive Secretary, Dr Canisius Kanangire, said the outcome from the workshop would soon be presented to the Council of Ministers for Lake Victoria Basin for adoption and subsequent implementation.

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