Kigoma Intensifies War on Illegal Charcoal Exports
OVER 100 charcoal bags worth over a half a million shillings were impounded from illegal traders accused of sponsoring villagers in Kigoma Rural District to cut down trees from Masito-Ugalla forest reserve.
The charcoal which is exported mainly to Democratic Republic of Congo through Kilando village on the shores of Lake Tanganyika to Kalemie, was ceased from traders by forestry officers from Kigoma Rural and forest monitors recruited by Jane Goodall Institute.
A 50-90kgs bag of charcoal in DRC fetches between 30 and 50 US dollars (45-75,000/-) according to residents of the lake shore villages who are in regular contact with consumers in Kalemie.
District Forestry Officer, Siulapwa Kishera said over the telephone from Kigoma on Wednesday that owners of the consignment paid a 350,000/- for 50 bags as penalty, while 70 bags remain detained until when penalty is paid.
"The owners paid penalty for the 50 bags and were allowed to take them while we remain with 70," Mr Kishera said.
Jane Goodall Institute Project Director, Edwin Nssoko said it's sad that regulations are not stringent enough to help solve the problem of deforestation for charcoal making at Masito-Ugalla forest reserve.
"The whole consignment should have been confiscated instead of paying penalty and getting released," Mr Nssoko said.
JGI with funding from Norwegian government is implementing a three-year pilot project to assist communities from seven villages in Kigoma Rural and Mpanda districts protect the70,000 hectares Masito-Ugalla forest reserve and earn money through Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) initiative.
The JGI has trained two forest monitors from each of the seven villages to patrol their area bordering the forest reserve to curb deforestation. Nssoko said JGI also provides fuel to the DFO to undertake patrol campaigns aimed at flushing out gangs of timber and charcoal makers camping inside the forest.
Under the initiative, JGI has also assisted villagers form community based organizations to work with village governments in co-ordinating conservation work and introduction of alternative income generating activities such as beekeeping.
"With beekeeping, communities will protect trees because that's where hives are perched," said JGI Conservation Botanist, Alex Njahani. JGI hopes to enable communities get paid in a post Kyoto Protocol REDD arrangement for conserving forests which scientists claim sequester carbon dioxide hence combating global warming.
The Norwegian government has allocated 100 million US dollars (approx. 150bn/-) for climate change issues and forest conservation in the country for the next 5 years effective 2005.