Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Challenges of conserving Sandalwood

The Monday edition of EA Standard run a story titled“AG terminates sandalwood theft case” which shows the difficulties faced by forestry agencies in enforcing the ban on sandalwood exploitation.

Ossiris Lanceolata is an endangered tree species found in the ASAL areas of East Africa. This species is quite useful in the manufacture of beauty products especially perfumes after undergoing a process to extract its oil. It is also used to make medicines and locally, it was used to make traditional medicine for various ailments.

Its endangered nature forced His Excellency the President following recommendations by scientists and forestry experts to give it protection under the Presidential Decree which essentially banned its harvesting until a sustainable way of utilizing it is found.

Unscrupulous dealers in cahoots with some security agencies have however continued to deplete the Kenyan stock of the species by allowing its transportation on Kenyan roads and export through Kenyan borders. It is important to note that none of the other East African countries have sandalwood. This is due to uncontrolled harvesting of the species which has completely depleted it in both Uganda and Tanzania.

Tanzania is the main transit point for the sandalwood and does not have a harvesting and transportation ban on the species making it the ideal exit route to overseas markets mainly in Asia.

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