In reference to the Zanzibar Declaration on Illegal Trade in Timber and Forest Products signed at the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa on 9th September 2016, national forest agencies from Republics of Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Uganda, and United Republic of Tanzania met in Nairobi, Kenya to deliberate on actions to implement the Declaration. The deliberations, which form the basis of this briefing note, were generated as part of multi-stakeholder process with presence of media, Civil Society Organizations, international organizations and Customs authorities from Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. The meeting in Nairobi was part of the 4th Annual East Africa Timber Trade Stakeholders’ Forum held from 27th to 28th June 2016.


The deliberations reached at the Forum in Nairobi are based on the mutual desire of all Parties under the Zanzibar Declaration to cooperate on regional efforts to curb illegal timber trade and other forest products. In reaffirming these commitments, the representatives of national forest agencies proposed the formulation of the Steering Committee (also referred to as the Technical Committee), which would consist of high-level government officials capable of pushing forward the deliberations under the Zanzibar Declaration in the political sphere. As a hosting institution for the 4th Annual East Africa Timber Trade Stakeholders’ Forum, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) was selected as a first secretariat and Chair for the Steering Committee. 


Purpose of the First Steering Committee Meeting


The objectives of the meeting will include:

  1. To launch the Steering Committee under the Zanzibar Declaration
  2. To agree on a number of proposed collaborative regional actions and modalities for implementation
  3. To release the regional timber trade report on trade dynamics that covers several countries within the region




The Steering Committee has agreed on the following:


1. Membership of the Steering Committee

To be comprised of Heads of Forest Institutions within the geographical scope of the Signatories of the Declaration and others that may wish to join.


Currently, the membership of the Steering Committee is composed of the following:

  1. Kenya Forest Service
  2. National Forestry Authority of Uganda
  3. Forest Sector Support Department of Uganda
  4. Tanzania Forest Service Agency
  5. Department of Forestry and Non-renewable Natural Resources of Zanzibar
  6. National Directorate of Forest of Mozambique
  7. Directorate General of Forest of Madagascar


2. Functions of the Steering Committee

The Parties to the Zanzibar Declaration have jointly agreed the following as functions to be carried by the Steering Committee:

  1. To make decisions based on the mandate for the benefit of the Member States
  2. To facilitate communication and cooperation between Parties.
  3. To seek financial resources for implementation of the Zanzibar Declaration
  4. To provide oversight, coordinate and/or provide linkages to the in-country technical committees (e.g., multi-agency teams, judiciary, and law enforcement)
  5. To review and approve membership by other Member States with interest to join the Declaration
  6. To review and approve implementation, work plans and reports of the member Parties.


3. Leadership and Hosting Arrangement


The Secretariat and the Chair of the Steering Committee will be hosted and led by Parties on a two-year rotational basis.  


The Steering Committee has extended a request to WWF and TRAFFIC to continue to provide support until such time when the institutional structure of the Zanzibar Declaration is self-sustaining.


4. Repatriation and disposal of timber and non-timber forest products 


At a meeting with several signatories to the Zanzibar Declaration in Madagascar in February 2017, Parties expressed the need to collaborate in developing mechanisms and agreements to deal with seized consignments (under CITES, etc.) in another country but within the geographical scope of the Zanzibar Declaration, and evidence sharing for prosecuting cases related to seized consignments.  In particular, Parties expressed frustrations on revenue loss for consignments seized abroad and that repatriation of consignments adds more costs to process cases, exacerbating additional pressure on countries. The meeting took the position as follows: 


“In the spirit of the Zanzibar Declaration, the preference is not to destroy seized timber and non-timber forest products, and that relevant Parties enter into bi-lateral agreements to address the disposal of seized contraband.”


5. Strengthening collaboration as a bloc


Parties to the Zanzibar Declaration have recognized their forest areas are shrinking, coupled with loss of biodiversity, while there is increasing trade in forest and wildlife resources to East and South Asian countries.  For example, according to Lukumbuzya and Sianga (2017), Kenya, India, and China are Tanzania’s most important export destinations for timber, accounting for more that 70% of the value of Tanzania’s exports over the past 10 years.  Mozambique exported USD186 million of timber products (5% of Mozambique’s total exports), about 90% of which is destined to China.  


Recognizing this situation, but also the opportunities to forge a more effective forest-related business relationship, the Steering Committee has agreed thus


“to consider a bloc approach to enter into legally binding agreements with relevant trading partners, specifically Asian countries, to strengthen sustainable forest management and trade.”  



6. Funding for the Zanzibar Declaration


The signing of the Zanzibar Declaration by the Governments of Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Uganda, and Tanzania, represents a clear sign of commitment by Governments in the region to make an end to the illegal trade in timber and forest products, which is not only degrading the rich forests assets of the region but also represents an enormous loss in economic values and livelihood opportunities to the countries.


A key question that is on the table is currently how to finance the implementation of the advanced measures to be implemented at both national and regional level, to deliver on the aspirations of these agreements.  In this regard, the Steering Committee has agreed the following as the way forward:


•Parties are fully committed to implement the Zanzibar Declaration and that they will continue to include the national priorities in their government’s planning cycle.

•Parties have expressed the need to pursue other opportunities to fundraise to implement actions under the Zanzibar Declaration. In this particularly interest, Parties have jointly agreed that they will pursue Global Environmental Facility (GEF7) funding opportunity. Parties will seek guidance from their national GEF focal points to pursue the opportunity. 



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