Certification and labelling promises to revive Kenya’s depressed woodcarving industry | WWF

Certification and labelling promises to revive Kenya’s depressed woodcarving industry



Posted on 25 June 2003
Kenya's wood carvers hard at work creating their works of art.
© WWF EARPO / David Maingi
Nairobi, Kenya – WWF is pleased to announce that plans to certify Kenya’s wood carvings are at advanced stages, with promising benefits for more than 500,000 people who rely on the industry for their livelihoods. Next year, Kenya is expected to complete a rigorous certification process that has been on-going for more than three years now. Successful completion of the process will earn Kenya’s carvings the prestigious, internationally recognized Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. The FSC label will effectively give Kenya’s carvings unlimited access to international markets. Kenya’s carvings have an estimated export earning potential of US$20 million (KSh1.5 billion) but have lost 75 per cent of their share of the international market in recent years. “Kenya can easily reclaim its lost share of the international woodcarvings market through certification bringing employment and income benefits to millions of people in the country,” says David Maingi, Manager for WWF's Woodcarving Project in Kenya. The carvers are presently hard at work preparing for an order of certified woodcarvings expected from the UK later this year. The industry is currently reeling from acute shortages of raw wood for carving due to over-exploitation and degradation of the country’s natural forests upon which carvers have traditionally relied for indigenous hardwoods like mahogany, ebony, olive and others. Most of these trees have been extensively destroyed. WWF and other organizations have over the last three years been promoting the use of equally good quality woods that are readily available or can be grown on-farm as an alternative for the hardwoods. These include the neem, mango, jacaranda among others. With the increasing adoption and use of good wood alternatives, WWF is piloting the certification of neem woodcarvings produced by carvers in Mombasa and Malindi. WWF hopes the positive results and experiences of this initiative will not only lead to FSC-certification, but will also see replication in other parts of the country and other sectors of the timber industry. “If developing countries want to keep and expand their share of international trade, certification provides a clear way forward giving a much-needed competitive edge,” Mr. Maingi says. For further information: Catherine Mgendi Communications Manager, WWF Eastern Africa Tel: +254 2 572630/1 or 577355 David Maingi Manager, WWF's Woodcarving Project in Kenya Tel: +254 2 572630/1 or 577355
Kenya's wood carvers hard at work creating their works of art.
© WWF EARPO / David Maingi Enlarge