Friday May 23 2014

Africa loses $17b to illegal logging annually - report

A truck loaded with logs in the Congo forest.

A truck loaded with logs in the Congo forest. FILE PHOTO  

By TREVOR ANALO .Monitor correspondent


Africa is losing billions of dollars through illegal fishing and logging, a report released by the Africa Progress Panel chaired by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said last week.

The report estimates that Africa loses $17 billion (about Shs34 trillion) every year to loggers and at least $1.3 billion (about Shs3.2 trillion) through illegal and unreported fishing in West Africa alone, suggesting that the figures on the eastern and southern coasts of the continent may be higher.

Africa has some of the most prized marine resources in the world, especially on its western and eastern seaboards, making it a magnet for foreign fishing vessels.

The report blames the threat to marine resources on the growing demand for fish in emerging markets and conservation policies in the US and Europe.
Rich nations in the EU, East Asia and Russia allegedly finance the plunder of Africa’s oceans by giving their fishing industries $27 billion in subsidies.

“Part of these subsidies goes to fleets that are implicated in illegal fishing activities in Africa,” the report said.
Many of the illegal logging activities are being played out in the forests of the Congo Basin and beyond.

Congo most affected
Covering about 200 million hectares and second in size only to the Amazon Basin, the proportion of the forest that is at risk in the Congo Basin ranges between 64 and 92 per cent.

Affecting the livelihoods of over 60 million people, extensive deforestation is already evident in Cameroon, the Central African Republic and DR Congo, the report warns.