Mozambican authorities have confiscated the country’s largest haul of illegal timber in the northern port of Nacala as it was getting ready to be illegally exported.
The consignment comprised 1,300 containers of logs estimated at $800,000. Their eventual destination was believed to be China.
China is the main importer of wood from Mozambique – and there have been incidents of Chinese nationals participating in logging without licences in the country.
Chinese traders according to the environmental research organization, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) accounted for over 90% of Mozambican timber exports.
The BBC quotes, Olivia Amosse, director of the national agency for environmental quality control, as confirming that this was the largest single seizure of illegal timber in the southern African country’s history.
Those caught would have to pay more than the value of the seized logs, that is over $900,000 in fines and would also be charged. Ms Amosse also confirmed that the logs would be sold at a public auction.
As part of efforts to protect the country’s hardwood forests, the Mozambican parliament last week 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.