A new report by the African Development Bank’s (AfDB’s) African Natural Resources Centre has stressed the importance of forestry governance to boosting intra-African trade of wood products.
The report, titled ‘Assessing forest law enforcement, governance and trade in Africa’, was launched on March 21, the International Day of Forests.
According to the report, forestry contributes to the economic development, livelihoods and environmental sustainability of timber-exporting countries, mostly in Central Africa and timber-importing countries in West and North Africa.
“The export and import markets within Africa present an opportunity for intra-African trade, with substantial benefits for the populations of both importers and exporters,” it reads.
Although Africa hosts a considerable number of timber-exporting countries, most of these exports consist of primary products, with little value addition.
The report notes: “In 2013, African countries exported timber products worth about $4.5-billion. Of these, three-quarters were primary products (logs, sawnwood and veneer). In the same year, timber imports to African markets amounted to $6.5-billion, of which 8% ($526-million) were intra-regional. Sawnwood was the most important timber import with 31% of the total ($2-billion).”
The governance of the forestry sector is key to facilitating value addition of wood products, and in order to improve governance in Africa’s forestry sector, the report states that there should be political, institutional and cultural frameworks, through which interests in forest resources are coordinated and controlled.
The report recommends a regional programme for the promotion of legality in African timber trade that would harness the forestry sector through trade in legal timber products between African sub-regional markets.
“It is imperative that we give forestry the attention that it deserves, and that the planting of trees becomes a routine activity across the continent,” said Africa Natural Resources Centre officer-in-charge and forestry expert Modibo Traore.
The publication was launched in tandem with another African Natural Resources Centre report, ‘How Forestry contributes to the African Development Bank’s High 5 Priorities: Challenges and Opportunities’.