'Queimadas' - Uncontrolled fires destroy vast areas of forest in southern Mozambique
The Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique on Wednesday yesterday approved a draft law that increases from 12 to 16 years the term of imprisonment for the destruction of protected species of fauna and flora.
The law, presented by Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development Celso Correia, also criminalizes hunting using prohibited weapons and mechanical traps.
Speaking in parliament, Celso Correia said that the law corrects a gap in the 2014 law on the Protection, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity, which did not reach people who fund poaching and those found in possession of protected species.
The minister noted that in Mozambique frequent cases have been registered of citizens involved in the killing of protected species in conservation areas and foreigners found in possession of rhinoceros horn, tusks, and lion’s teeth and claws resulting from poaching.
“The absence of a punishment with imprisonment for the possession of protected species material, in part or in whole, creates favourable conditions for criminals and for the continuing slaughter of protected species, making it extremely difficult to adequately protect biodiversity against the most dangerous forms of environmental crimes,” Correia said.
Mozambique is plagued by the depletion of wildlife and forest resources and several species are at risk of extinction due to poachers, and the legal instrument now approved includes punishment for the slaughter of protected species under CITES Annexes I and II (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
Export of raw timber from Mozambique
Ban on raw timber exports
On Wednesday, the Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique also unanimously approved a bill prohibiting the export of timber logs of all species.
According to Minister Correia, who presented the proposal on behalf of the Government, the purpose of the law is to discourage the export of raw timber and encourage the emergence of industries that can transform wood into furniture and other finished goods.
Correia noted that the bill amends another one of 2010 that imposed a surcharge on all exports of unprocessed or semi-processed wood.
“With this amended law, the Government can now, with the simple use of a pen, amend the Regulations of the Forestry and Wildlife Law of 2002, which also allowed the export of timber of precious, second, third and fourth class timber, obtained under a single license or forest concession,” Correia said.
The Minister pointed out that in the last years the country has witnessed an increase in the export of uncut logs, mainly to China. The legal export of timber from logs has increased from 22,846 cubic meters in 2010 to 148,093 cubic meters in 2015.
A year ago, the Mozambican government announced reforms in the forest sector to contain rampant deforestation, with the suspension of new licenses, inspection of all the operators in the sector and the prohibition of the export of wood in log form.
At the time, the country was manifesting deforestation at 0.58 percent per annum, equivalent to 219,000 hectares per year, and the reform aimed to reduce the rate to 0.2 percent.Source: Deutsche Welle