MPCC Engages Stakeholders on Forest Crime Reform

March 09, 2018
MPCC Engages Stakeholders on Forest Crime Reform

Organized forest crime is a significant threat to natural resources in Malawi. As the country looks to address this threat, The ICCF Group facilitated a briefing with Malawi’s inter-agency body on wildlife crime and members of the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC) to discuss opportunities for legal reforms.

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Organized forest crime is a significant threat to natural resources in Malawi, a country which has the highest rate of deforestation among Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world.

As the country looks to address this threat, The ICCF Group, on March 9th, facilitated a briefing with Malawi’s Department of Forestry, the Inter-Agency Committee on Combating Wildlife Crime (IACCWC), and members of the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC) to discuss opportunities for legal reforms.

Discussions centered on challenges in wildlife and forestry law enforcement, including corruption, and opportunities for collaboration on enforcement in combatting wildlife and forestry crimes. The IACCWC includes high-level representation from all departments involved in wildlife law enforcement, such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Ministry of Justice, Department of Public Prosecutions, and Malawi Police Service, representing an opportunity to gain cross-departmental input into what have been long-awaited and much debated reforms.

Important to this dialogue were lessons learned from the 2016 Wildlife Act Amendment Bill, which imposed stiff penalties on those convicted of wildlife crimes. The MPCC’s support for the Wildlife Act Amendment Bill was instrumental in its passing. Malawi had been identified as Southern Africa’s principal transit hub for illegally trafficked ivory in 2015, but arrest rates and court outcomes have both improved significantly.

Members of the MPCC have also engaged with the private sector to discuss forestry reforms. Following the March 9th briefing, members of the MPCC convened with representatives from the Ministries of Forestry, Agriculture and Lands, the Tobacco Control Commission, and representatives from Malawi’s tobacco industry (Alliance One, Limbe Leaf, Premium, and JTI) to discuss challenges relating to forestry and tobacco production. Recognizing the impact of its crop on the country’s forests, Malawi’s tobacco sector has made progress to support sustainable forestry initiatives.

Strengthening forestry policies will be a key step toward reducing environmental and economic impacts of forest crime.

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