Illegal wood exports cost Mozambique US$540 million over the last ten years

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(2015-07-23) The Mozambican state has lost about US$540 million in revenue from the illegal export of timber from its national forests over the last 10 years.

The revelation is contained in a report released by the University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) at the launch of the’Forest Governance in Mozambique: The Urgency of the Moment’ project, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for Conservation of Nature initiative being conducted with Swedish financial support.

The study reveals that forest resources are being exploited unsustainably and that the contribution of the forestry sector to the national economy would be much larger if illegalities in the exploitation and export processes were addressed.

In addition to voicing these concerns, the survey, conducted by a group of three researchers at UEM in the south, centre and north of Mozambique, makes specific recommendations including the revision of laws concerning wood processing, the reclassification of tree species, the monitoring of license allocation and the improved evaluation of management plans submitted.

National forests, especially in the centre and north of the country, are visibly dimishing and some species, such as ironwood, ebony, umbila, jambirre, chanfuta and mondzo, are now endangered.

The WWF is undertaking various actions to alert the government, civil society and the media to the extent of the forestry depletion and the gloomy environmental outlook that can be expected if action is not taken.

Anabela Rodrigues, Director of the WWF, describes the situation as worrying not only because revenues are lost to the state and local communities deprived of economic opportunities, but because of forests’ role as regulators of climate change.

“Disasters resulting from the deforestation along the banks of rivers can be expected. As an example, witness the serious impact floods have had in recent times,” she said.

According to the WWF, the solution is to make information on the subject more widely available, helping civil society organizations advocate and solve problems which cannot be left solely to government.

Acting through its embassy here, Sweden has expressed its commitment to supporting the country as it addresses these matters, while encouraging stakeholders to work together in seeking solutions to the problem.

What happens in the case of exports, according to the authors of the study is the existence of irregularities characterized by unfair competition with foreigners who take the lead in terms of exploration and also income.

For example, ‘Notícias’ learned that more than 90 percent of the wood harvested in the country is destined to China, to the detriment of some countries traditionally partners of Mozambique in this field.

In exploration the Chinese appear as Mozambican partners, but in the end most of the income is reversed in favour of foreigners.

Source: Notícias

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