It is certain that the bulk of the illegal Somali charcoal trade is carried from Somali ports on vessels registered in other States, so the trade is very clearly part of a broader transnational criminal enterprise that extends well beyond the activities of Al Shabaab and others inside Somalia itself. Nor does the illicit trade have only transnational organised crime dimensions – charcoal production creates massive deforestation and desertification problems, which in turn reduces the available grazing land for livestock, the dominant Somali export industry.
The UNSC has responded by placing a sanctions regime around the import of illegal Somali charcoal. However, this sanctions regime has three primary weaknesses:
a. It has not been applied over exports, thus it does not directly authorise any international action (in conjunction with the Somali Federal Government – SFG) in terms of interdicting illegal Somali charcoal shipments at the point of export;
b. The sanctions regime relies upon SFG implementation on the Somali export side of the trade, but the SFG has to date been unable to make significant inroads into this issue – understandable given the many other severe security and governance challenges it currently faces; and
c. The import sanctions regime does not appear to be enforced in importing States on a systematic and comprehensive basis, meaning that it does not yet appear to have sponsored any substantial reduction in the trade.
Uncontrolled woodcutting in remote areas of Zimbabwe like Mwenezi district has left many treeless fields. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS
Zimbabwe’s Famed Forests Could Soon Be Desert
by Jeffrey Moyo
“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently”– Marylin Smith, independent conservationist based in Masvingo, Zimbabwe
There’s a buzz in Zimbabwe’s lush forests, home to many animal species, but it’s not bees, bugs or other wildlife. It’s the sound of a high-speed saw, slicing through the heart of these ancient stands to clear land for tobacco growing, to log wood for commercial export and to supply local area charcoal sellers.
According to the country’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, Zimbabwe currently has 88,167 tobacco growers, whom environmental activists say are the catalysts of looming desertification here.
“Curing tobacco using huge quantities of firewood and even increased domestic use of firewood in both rural and urban areas will leave Zimbabwe without forests and one has to imagine how the country would look like after the demise of the forests,” Thabilise Mlotshwa, an ecologist from Save the Environment Association, an environmental lobby group here, told IPS.
“But really, it is difficult to object to firewood use when this is the only energy source most rural people have despite the environment being the worst casualty,” Mlotshwa added.
Zimbabwe’s deforestation crisis is linked to several factors.
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