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DW / Illegal wood seized in the first months of 2017, in the city of Beira
In two weeks, Mozambican authorities have seized 101 containers of illegal timber destined for China, and analysts say enforcement must be tightened even further.
The latest seizure occurred on Monday (05-02) during a police inspection in the Dondo district in the central province of Sofala which found that 75 containers of timber on their way to Beira on 15 trucks lacked proper paperwork. Forty of these containers were already stored inside a parking space. The wood was seized by local authorities.
“The colleagues at the checkpoint were faced with the presence of trucks loaded with containers, without transport documents. When documentation for the cargo was requested, all they could offer was the delivery note,” head of inspection of the provincial Forestry and Wildlife Services in Sofala, Domingos Cuinda, recounts
More than two thousand cubic metres of wood were seized, valued at 93 million meticais – about 1.2 million Euros. The seized timber will revert to the state.
“After judgment in the customs court, the sale by public auction or other measures to recover this value will be promoted,” Raimundo Mapanzene of the Mozambique Tax Authority explains.
This operation follows another, last Thursday (02-02), in which the Mozambican authorities seized 26 containers of illegal timber travelling by rail from Moatize to the port in Beira.
“More inspection needed in logging areas”
Hamid Taybo, president of Sofala Local Economic Development Agency, applauds these actions, but regrets that monitoring operations are not conducted at an earlier stage, in the tree-cutting areas themselves.
“It is important to invest more in the logging areas and give more power to state prosecutors and community inspectors. Also, that natural resource management committees must play a role in monitoring timber,” Taybo says.
Risk to forests
The Mozambican Tax Authority plans to install a device to monitor goods on the Sena railway line. But that is not enough, according to Hamid Taybo, who says it is “imperative” to monitor the diameter of the cut trees.
“We have become aware that trees less than 12 centimetres in diameter are being felled and exported to the Asian market,” he says. “It is necessary to map the concession areas, using GPS, to control the trees that are being cut.”
Wood in nine of the seized containers was being exported in log form, which is prohibited under Mozambican law. In the other containers, the wood already cut did not have the necessary documentation, according to Domingos Ncuinda, quoted by the newspaper Diário de Moçambique.
Ncuinda said the merchandise belonged to a Chinese company called Xeng Xeng, which buys and exports wood in Mozambique. The company will be fined in around 3.6 million meticais (47 thousand Euros).
The alert for the illegal movement of wood by railroad was issued by the National Agency for Control of the Environmental Quality (AQUA). Last November, 120 containers already cleared for shipment to China were seized in the Beira port precinct itself.
The Mozambican government estimates that the country loses between 140 and 187 million Euros annually from timber smuggling.Source: Deutsche Welle