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The Mozambican government has urged forestry and timber operators not to embark on illegal activities, but to exploit natural resources in a way that brings economic benefits for the development of the country.
This appeal came from the Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, when he addressed a “meeting of reflection” with forestry operators in Maputo on Thursday.
“We have to stop implementing obscure agendas”, he warned. “You are the first people who should protect this Mozambican asset. You cannot use parallel paths to take away the wealth of the people. Protecting natural resources is protecting national sovereignty”.
“Let us put individual interests to one side, and think about collective interests, and then the individual benefits will be greater”, urged Correia.
The debate centred on “Operation Trunk”, launched by Correia’s ministry in March in the central provinces of Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia and the northern provinces of Nampula and Cabo Delgado.
The purpose of the operation was to look at the real situation of logging on the ground, and assess how effective local monitoring by forest wardens has been. What the Ministry brigades found as they inspected over 120 timber work yards was massive violations of the law: over 75 per cent of the companies inspected had committed serous violations. So far Operation Trunk has resulted in the seizure of about 150,000 cubic metres of illegally logged wood.
The timber operators told Correia that they were in favour of Operation Trunk, but condemned the supposed lack of transparency in the sale of the seized timber at public auction, which they claimed might even encourage illegal logging.
Correia denied this and said that the whole of Operation Trunk was fully transparent. As for the fate of the seized wood, Correia told reporters on Tuesday it would be used to make desks for the country’s schools. He also denied claims that the brigades had exaggerated the amount of wood seized.
“The country saw everything, through the mass media”, Correia pointed out. The brigades had made a point of taking television crews with them, as they visited one timber yard after another. “The operation was undertaken with full transparency”.
“Every procedure will be announced previous and publicly”, promised the Minister. “All the measures we are taking, all our activity, will be transparent”.
He warned that the government is determined to protect Mozambique’s natural resources – hence the decision to ban all logging for the next three months, while all timber licences are reviewed. Such measures will eventually help the companies with forestry concession to run at a profit, create jobs, and ensure that the business will survive into future generations.Source: AIM
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