Illegal logging is the major threat to the African blackwood forest environment and the forest dependent people who rely on it for their livelihoods.
Forestry studies in Tanzania carried out as recently as 2007 have revealed that as much as 96% of timber harvested is done so on an illegal basis.
That means that trees have been cut in an unsustainable way without attention to harvesting plans and without paying the full dues to the people that rely on the forests for their livelihoods.
To learn more about scale and nature of illegal logging in Tanzania read the 2007 TRAFFIC report Forestry, Governance and National Development: Lessons Learned from a Logging Boom in Southern Tanzania.
Since the release of the TRAFFIC report in 2007 and a number of subsequent logging bans, improvements have been made in forest management in Tanzania and the scale of illegal logging has declined.
However, the fact that Tanzania is aiming to reduce illegal logging to the regional average of 70% indicates the scale of the challenge.
There have been no similar studies in the other major African blackwood exporting country, Mozambique. However, given there are good reasons to suspect that the scale of illegal logging in Mozambique could be worse than in Tanzania.
The Forest Governance in Zambezia, Mozambique: Chinese Takeaway! on logging operations provides a valuable insight. Whilst not referring specifically to African blackwood or the Northern regions where the species is found, it does demonstrate the free-for-all situation of forestry in Mozambique.
The tougher forestry regime in Tanzania since the 2007 may also have pushed less scrupulous operators south of the border where they find things more to their liking.
It provides them with the legal rights over their forest resources and an income source for community development and forest protection.