AFRICA ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK
Past, present and future perspectives
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Illegal logging in the Aberdares Forest Reserve, Kenya Christian Lambrechts, Kenya

Forests Working Group

Towards sustainable management and conservation of forests and woodlands in Eastern Africa

As a response to the rising demand for fuelwood, rural electrification is being promoted in some countries such as Uganda. However, the rural poor cannot afford the investments needed for electrical appliances or the electricity tariffs

In addition to national forestry policy and institutional reform, international, sub-regional and national efforts are being made to conserve forest resources and reduce the pressures on forest ecosystems. Reforestation programmes are being implemented through funding arrangements under the Kyoto Protocol, such as the rehabilitation of degraded areas of the forests of Mount Elgon National Park and Kibale National Park (Uganda), implemented jointly by the Ugandan government and a Dutch energy utility consortium (NEMA 1999). As a response to the rising demand for fuelwood, rural electrification is being promoted in some countries such as Uganda. However, the rural poor cannot afford the investments needed for electrical appliances or the electricity tariffs. Alternative means of meeting the energy requirements include promoting the establishment of woodlots. The success of these efforts will depend largely on improvements in land tenure arrangements together with the realization that available arable land is in short supply. Agroforestry techniques are being successfully introduced to help boost agricultural productivity and economic gain. These have been taken up by many Kenyan farmers and multipurpose tree species are now providing plant nutrients, animal fodder, building poles, fuelwood and timber. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons including inadequacy of institutional capacity and lack of funds, not all areas are being covered. Efforts are also underway to improve the sustainability of the wood carving industry, by discouraging use of endangered species while protecting the livelihoods of millions of entrepreneurs (see Box 2d.5).

Box 2d.5 Kenya's wood carving -options for sustainability of livelihoods and environment

Kenya's extensive and successful wood carving industry is contributing to deforestation and degradation of wooded areas through selective harvesting. The four most commonly used species are Dalbergia melanoxylon, Brachylaena huillensis, Combretum schumannii and Olea africana. Carvers are aware of the threat this causes to the environment and their livelihoods and have identified fast-growing, widely grown tree species such as neem, jacaranda, grevillea and mango as alternatives. These species can be harvested without environmental damage, and their use for carving generates additional incomes to farmers who grow them for fruit or other purposes. However, these species require curing before carving, and carvers require some incentive to change their current practices. The WWF has launched a campaign to raise consumer awareness and encourage tourists and local residents to buy carvings from sustainably produced woods. Certification is being explored as an option to facilitate the switch, sustaining the livelihoods of the carvers and helping to conserve the environment.

Source: Cunningham 2001

In addition to reviewing policy, legal status and regulations, some countries in the sub-region have drawn up, or are currently drawing up, Forest Action Plans or Programmes as the main frameworks for rehabilitation and expansion of forest cover. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda have established criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management through the Dry Zone Africa process, and Ethiopia and Kenya now have some of their forested land under management plans. Burundi and Rwanda do not have such management measures in place as yet (because wars and civil unrest have presented barriers to these activities). However, both countries have large percentages of forest in protected areas (30 per cent and 76 per cent respectively) (FAO 2001a). The needs of some Kenyan communities for fuelwood, poles, sawnwood, wood-based panels, and pulp and paper have been met largely through afforestation and reforestation efforts at household and industrial/commercial levels. Rwanda has the largest network of forest plantations in the sub-region and these help to meet some of the timber needs of the local population.