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Cablegate: Lacey Amendments Will Help Kenya Protect Its Dwindling

VZCZCXRO0329
RR RUEHAST RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHTM
DE RUEHNR #2842/01 3540508
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190508Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8013
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 002842

DEPT ALSO FOR OES, OES/ENRC MARK JOHNSON, OES/ENV, OES/EGC ED
FENDLEY AND DREW NELSON, AF/E, AND AF/EPS

POSTS FOR REO AND ESTH OFFICERS

ADDIS ABABA FOR REO KIRSTEN BAUMAN

INTERIOR FOR US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AND US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
DR. JAYNE BELNAP

AGRICULTURE FOR US FOREST SERVICE

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ETRD KCRM EINV BTIO ENRG KGHG ECON KE
SUBJECT: LACEY AMENDMENTS WILL HELP KENYA PROTECT ITS DWINDLING
SANDALWOOD AND OTHER PRECIOUS INDIGENOUS PLANTS

REFS: (A) STATE 126654 (B) NAIROBI 2710
(C) NAIROBI 2220 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) As instructed ref A, upon receipt, post provided Lacey Act
amendments to the Kenyan Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, National Environment
Management Authority, and Forest Service, pointing out that the new
regulations will help backstop Kenya's own efforts to protect rare
indigenous plants and combat illegal logging.

2. (U) On December 17 econoff met with Forest Service deputy
commandant for enforcement and compliance Alex Lemarkoko and head of
corporate communications Raphael Mworia to review the Lacey Act
amendments and learn more about Kenya's efforts to protect its
dwindling forests (refs B-C), stem illegal charcoal production, and
stop smuggling in sandalwood.

-------------------
Sad Sandalwood Saga
-------------------

3. (SBU) Both men said Kenya is grappling with a pervasive black
market in sandalwood and expressed confidence that the Lacey Act
amendments would help re-enforce the Forest Service's own efforts to
combat illegal trade in protected plants. In recent weeks, Forest
Service and Kenya Wildlife Service rangers have impounded several
trucks (including an impressive 18-wheeler seen by econoff) en route
to Tanzania full of sandalwood. Some 120 tons of the bush's
fragrant root have been confiscated and burned just since early
November 2008. Much of the sandalwood was interdicted in Namanga, a
city bordering Tanzania, north of Arusha.

4. (SBU) The Kenya Forest Service believes a sophisticated cartel,
based in Nakuru, is purchasing sandalwood, which is protected by a
2007 presidential decree, from middlemen for 200 shillings ($2.50)
per kilo. The middlemen obtain the wood from impoverished
pastoralists in the semi-arid northern regions of Kenya for a
pittance: 5 to 20 shillings ($.06 to $.25) per kilo. The Forest
Service officials believe the wood is eventually sold in Dar es
Salaam for onward shipment to Asia and the Middle East for 1000 to
2000 shillings ($12.50 to $25.00) per kilo. The Kenyans have
learned that a major buyer in Dar es Salaam is the "Indo-African
Essential Oils, Ltd. Company."

5. (SBU) Kenyan efforts to put a stop to the illegal trade in local
sandalwood are hampered, Mworia and Lemarkoko acknowledged, by its
legal harvesting, processing, and sale in neighboring Uganda and
Tanzania. Truck drivers moving Kenyan sandalwood, when pulled over,
usually present certificates of origin, customs declarations, and
transit documents ostensibly issued by Ugandan Customs asserting
that the wood was harvested in Uganda. Mworia said Ugandan Customs
has cooperated with the Kenya Plant and Animal Inspectorate Service
(KEPHIS), Forest Service, and Customs Service in examining the
documents, invariably found to be fraudulent. The Kenyan
authorities have arrested a number of clearing agents, one of whom
is now supplying details about the cartel's operations.

6. (SBU) Both men admitted Kenya's five-year ban on sandalwood
sales has unwittingly bolstered the black market. The Forest
Service intends to rally the Ministry of Industrialization in
developing legal guidelines on how the root might be properly
harvested and processed into sandalwood oil in future. Making the
business legal in Kenya would help the Forest Service convince
pastoralists that it is in their self-interest to cultivate and
harvest the plant in a sustainable way.

---------------------------------
Money Motivates Mau Deforestation
---------------------------------

7. (SBU) Lemarkoko and Mworia also discussed their agency's ongoing
efforts to protect Kenya's five water towers, notably the Mau

NAIROBI 00002842 002 OF 002


catchment area (refs B-C). In late June 2008, e.g., the Forest
Service confiscated 52 tons of podo timber and eight tons of
rosewood supposedly cut on private farms but actually downed in the
Mau Forest. The two Kenyan officials said forest rangers routinely
interdict trucks laden with indigenous timber and finished wood
products, such as doors and window frames, on their way from Narok
to Mombasa Port. The lumber and finished wood products, they
believe, are destined for Asia. They bemoaned that the Forest
Service's 2,600 rangers are simply unable to prevent all the illegal
felling of timber on Kenya's 1.7 million hectares of gazetted
forest. As in the case of sandalwood, money is the motivation
behind the illegal cutting, in violation of the 2005 Forest Act, of
prized indigenous trees like African red cedar, podo, and mahogany.
They admitted that a few forest rangers, who earn a mere 13,000
shillings ($165) per month, are tempted to take bribes to look the
other way when protected trees are taken.

-----------------------------
Poaching Hot Line Established
-----------------------------

8. (U) Poaching of flora and fauna is such a major concern in Kenya
that the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife has just established a
toll-free hotline for citizens to alert the ministry's permanent
secretary and deputy secretary about alleged instances of illegal
hunting of bush meat; trade in contraband (animal skins, ivory,
rhino horn, other animal parts, and live animals); unauthorized
logging and charcoal burning; sandalwood smuggling; and unauthorized
farming and livestock grazing in protected forests.

Ranneberger

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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