Tanzanian timber being smuggled by sea to Emirates By EMMANUEL SELESTINE THE EAST AFRICAN Posted Saturday, February 7 2009 at 10:33 In a bid to stem illegal shipping of forest products out of its territory, Tanzania has acquired and is now using two speedboats to monitor vessels on its waters. Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Ezekiel Maige said all vessels coming from the south will now be under surveillance. The government said that the timber and logs are being transported down the river from Rufiji District in the south and by sea through Zanzibar to the United Arab Emirates a major market for the products. In January, the government impounded logs, timber and charcoal worth over $52,000. In 2006, the government banned harvesting and importation of logs and timber following revelations that it was losing revenue. According to a report by Traffic International, a joint programme by the World Wildlife Fund and the World Conservation Union, Tanzania lost $58 million annually during 2004 and 2005 in timber revenue due to poor governance and corruption in the forestry sector. Traffic International mentioned logging without documentation, logging in unauthorised areas, and the use of invalid export documentation as the key areas. Tanzanias 33.5 million hectares of forest cover are increasingly at risk, mostly as a result of illegal logging, which is destroying some 500,000 hectares of the countrys forests every year. The government admitted that illegal exploitation is occurring almost all over the country, both in forest reserves and in unreserved forest areas. Illegal trading in timber products is especially rife in crossborder areas.