The African Natural Resources Centre of the African Development Bank has harped on the importance of good forestry governance to boosting intra-African trade of wood products in its new report.
The report marking the International Day of Forests said export and import markets within Africa present opportunity for intra-African trade, with substantial benefits for the populations of all involved.
Dubbed Assessing Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade in Africa, it said forestry contributes to economic development, livelihoods and environmental sustainability of timber-exporting countries, especially in Central Africa, West and North Africa.
Vast chunk of these exports, the report said, were basic products with little value addition.
“In 2013, African countries exported timber products worth about $4.5 billion. Of these, three-quarters were primary products logs, sawnwood and veneer. The same year, timber imports to African markets amounted to $6.5 billion, of which 8 percent ($526 million), were intra-regional. Sawnwood was the most important timber import with 31 percent of the total $2 billion,” it said.
It emphasised the need for political, institutional and cultural frameworks, through which interests in forest resources are coordinated and controlled, to facilitate the desired value addition to wood products.
In addition, it proposed 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.
Modibo Traore, forestry expert and Officer-in-Charge of the African Natural Resources Centre, in a call for action said: “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”.