Local timber industry all set for major boost

Arusha. The timber industry is set for a major boost with an increased number of wood processing industries.

Although this has come after the 2016 ban on timber harvesting, for export among others, full involvement of the private sector has been a blessing.

This emerged here yesterday during a meeting convened by the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism with the private timber dealers.

Mr Ben Mfungo Sulus from the Federation of Tanzania Forestry Industries said the public-private partnership has opened a new chapter for the sub-sector.

“Many obstacles affecting the timber sector are being overcome or removed entirely,” he told the meeting at an Arusha hotel.

Without giving details, Mr Sulus cited 26 barriers which have been sorted out. The ban on timber harvest permits took effect in July 2016.

He said the dialogue between the government and the private sector would open more avenues like increased investments in wood industries.

Mr Godwill Wanga, the executive secretary of Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC), lauded the government’s good will for the sector.

The close partnership between the state and the stakeholders will immensely benefit the timber industry, apparently neglected in the past.

The benefits include access to engineered wood products from Tanzania to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market.

According to him, since the dialogue began, export tax for wood products has been reduced to three percent from five percent.

The Commissioner General of Tanzania Forestry Service (TFS), Prof Dos Santos Silayo, said that the ban on raw timber exports has been a boon to the industry.

According to him, over 4,000 timber-related factories have been established in the country since 2016 when the ban was enforced.

This has seen about 250 engineered wood products in the market, some meeting the quality for the export markets.

In 2021, TNBC launched a programme to encourage the creation of engineered wood products manufacturing units (EWPS).

The units are seen as critical in the value addition chain of forestry products that will play an important part in the country’s economic growth.

According to TNBC, the forestry sector benefits from foreign currency gains from wood product exports.

The area under forests and woodlands in the Tanzania mainland is 48.1 million hectares (ha) of which 20.9 million ha (43.3 percent of the total areas) are productive forests.

The remaining forest area of 27.2 million ha (57 percent) consists of 18.0 million ha which are wildlife reserves and 9.2 million ha which are protection forests that are legally in-accessible for wood extraction.

The total wood volume from all the forest categories is 3.3 billion metric cubic metres, out of which 97 percent is from natural forests and 3 percent from planted trees.

The average volume of wood is 37.9 metric cubic hectares.

According to National Forest Resources Monitoring and Assessment (Naforma) data, 21.6 million ha or 46 percent of forests and woodlands is under village government.

The annual consumption of wood is estimated to be around 62.3 million cubic metres.

However, the Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) from productive woods is around 42.8 million metre cubes.