Illegal logging is a growing feature of transnational organized crime in Africa, often facilitated by the collusion of senior officials, with far-reaching security and environmental implications for the countries affected.
Mozambique’s forests are a treasure trove of biodiversity and natural beauty. Covering 43% of the country’s landmass, these native forests and woodlands are home to an array of unique landscapes and wildlife.
However, Mozambique is grappling with a major issue: illegal logging. Between 2017 and 2020, firms in the country illegally exported 2.6 million tonnes of logs worth $900 million in violation of the log export ban. An overwhelming majority of these shipments, 99%, were destined for China.
Cheringoma District Court in Sofala has given 14 individuals sentences ranging from four to six years in prison for committing environmental crimes in the Gorongosa National Park buffer zone. The offenders engaged in illegal logging and killing of animals, including elephants, buffalo, lions and pangolins.
The Mozambican authorities launched, in Maputo on Monday, a digital Forestry Information System (SIF) that will promote transparency, compliance with legislation and the computerization of forestry information It is estimated that Mozambique has 31.7 million hectares of forests, with at least 449 species of trees and a volume of 800 million cubic metres of wood.
Illegal loggers continue to devastate the forests of Zambézia province.
Although the Gilé National Park buffer zone and containment measures imposed by park supervisors there are providing some respite, there are reports that the southern part of the province is experiencing a new spike of illegal exploitation of Umbila wood.
Mozambique’s National Agency for Environmental Quality Control (Aqua) has seized over 2,000 cubic metres of wood that was being illegally exported through the port of Beira, in central Mozambique, the state agency said.
In 2020, eight Mozambican public officials and one Chinese national named Zhao were arrested for illegally harvesting and exporting timber from Cabo Delgado — Mozambique’s northernmost province — to China. According to local reports, five of the Mozambicans are awaiting trial while Zhao and three Mozambicans have been released, and the seized wood was returned to Zhao personally.
Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.
Click here to access the Cattle Data Tool.