Today we visited a small sawmill who sells timber. A large part of the timber comes from trees which are strictly forbidden to cut, for example mahogany, rosewood and such. The general prizes are low compared to world market prizes and very low considering the quality of the wood.
The mahogany is imported from rain forests in Kongo where they now probably cut larger areas with untouched rain forest than in any other part of the world. Here in Kenya it is unfortunately no risks involved in dealing with illegal timber. Corruption among officials is considered to be widely spread and retrieving necessary documents is rarely a problem for the ones who can afford the hush money.
Vi-skogens project manager, Björn Horvath found rosewood (Hagenia abyssinica) on the sawmill. Rosewood is illegally logged in the area around Kitale.
Björn stresses the importance of giving support to farmers which have planted for example Elgon teak, so they can harvest these more exclusive trees to substitute rainforest timber. There must be a functioning legal market – otherwise no farmers will plant trees in the future.
Recently an Ugandan newspaper printed an article on the subject of the Mabiran rain forest which covers an area of approximately 7000 ha. The governments is requesting the Ministry of Land and Agriculture to provide alternative areas to be gazetted as forest reserves, in exchange for the Mabira forest which will be given to the Suger cooperation of Uganda Limited.
If the government gives the sugar company the forest area to plant sugar canes, there will never be rain forest there again, species of animals and plants will die and the lack of forest will affect the water condition in the whole area.
A natural forest can never be substituted.