Market Signals of Unsustainable and Inequitable Forest Extraction: Assessing the Value of Illegal Timber Trade in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania

Natural forests and woodlands of the Eastern Arc Mountains (EAM) in Tanzania are under threat from deforestation and degradation. The estimated annual revenues from EAM hardwood for domestic use are USD 10 million in terms of planks, and twice as much when processed into furniture. Timber profits are largely captured by people whose livelihoods do not directly depend on other EAM ecosystem services. Market data, such as declining plank sizes and shifts to low-quality timber species, contain possible early warning signals of unsustainable hardwood harvesting. Policy recommendations include simplifying regulations for legal trade, developing sustainable financing, and increasing softwood supply.