As part of efforts to protect the country’s hardwood forests, the Mozambican parliament on Thursday unanimously passed the second and final reading of a bill that will ban the export of unprocessed timber logs.
Under the new law, which will come into effect on 1 January 2017, semi-processed timber (such as beams, planks and parquet) may be exported, but will be subject to an export tax. There is no tax on the export of finished wooden goods, such as furniture.
The law is expected to halt the devastation of the southern African country’s forests which is experiencing depletion. The issue of illegal logging in the country has also been identified as a key source of revenue loss to the government.
We have seized more illegal wood in one year than Mozambique has since independence. We are passing a new forestry law and a new conservation law.
China is the main importer of wood from Mozambique – and there have been incidents of Chinese nationals participating in logging without a licence. Chinese traders according to the environmental research organization, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) accountred for over 90% of Mozambican timber exports.
Another research group, found that in 2014 Mozambican wood entering China surpassed $400m, up from $90m in 2009.
Celso Correia, the minister for land, environment and rural development is quoted in an article published in the UK Guardian as saying, “We are cleaning the house now”, in reference to the corruption and illegal logging that has dogged the country’s timber sector for more than a decade.
“We have seized more illegal wood in one year than Mozambique has since independence. We are passing a new forestry law and a new conservation law,” he added.