A proposed law by the East African Legislative Assembly seeks to stop smuggling of forest products like timber and sandalwood across the region.
The Bill provides regulations for management and protection of national forests and trans-boundary ecosystems and seeks to regulate trade in forest products.
The EALA is now partnering with East African Farmers Federation and the Centre for International Forestry Research to amend some clauses in the EAC Forest Management and Protection Bill 2015.
“Deforestation is on the increase due to changes in land use especially cropland expansion into forested areas, illegal logging and trade in forest products,” EAFF chief executive Stephen Muchiri said at a forum at the World Agroforestry Centre in Gigiri.
He noted that increased deforestation is affecting agriculture, tourism and other important sectors that support the region’s economy.
“EAFF is aware that farmers are one of the main culprits when it comes to cutting down trees. This is mainly to create more land for farming, or to use the wood as a source of fuel. More than 90 per cent of households in the region rely on firewood as a source of fuel for their households. The interaction between forestry and agriculture is very clear hence the need to manage our forests in a sustainable,” Muchiri said.
Muchiri said that about 60 per cent of all of the carbon that is absorbed by forests is emitted back into the atmosphere which contributes to climate change.
“This phenomenon has been identified as affecting agriculture and other sectors in the region and all efforts are needed to arrest deforestation, while promoting afforestation,” he added.
About 22 per cent of the total land area in East Africa excluding water bodies, is under natural forest, and though the natural forest cover is commendable, Muchiri noted that there’s need to increase the cover.