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In Inhambane province, southern Mozambique, loggers operate clandestinely in collusion with community leaders, and rangers do not have sufficient means to monitor the extent of felling.
Illegal timber cutting occurs mainly in the Mabote, Funhalouro and Govuro districts.
The Chinese company Sniper Marketing. Lda, was recently fined more than three million meticais (more than 47,000 Euros) for felling illegally in Funhalouro, and tractors, chainsaws and other equipment were was seized at the site.
“They only stopped working and fled when the authorities arrived,” says lumberjack Rassul Benjamim, who witnessed the cutting of Monzo [leadwood], Chacati Preto and Chanfuta for export to China.
Another forest operator, who asked not to be identified, said that violation of environmental law was commonplace because community leaders condoned the illegal forestry operations.
“There are some illegal foresters who come to a community via traditional leaders so that they are able to enter the area and make illegal exploitation,” he says.
Community leaders tempted with bribes
Mabote district administrator José Folige confirms that there are local leaders who take money to allow timber cutting without the knowledge of the authorities.
“They carry out clandestine felling, without any license whatsoever. They lure leaders with ridiculous amounts of money and end up being allowed to enter the forest and fell trees without ever contacting the authorities,” he explains.
DW Africa tried unsuccessfully to interview community leaders about these accusations of complicity.
The main problem is the lack of means of surveillance, Inhambane provincial Forest and Wildlife Services spokesman Afonso Almeida told DW Africa. There is no fuel for the few vehicles the institution has.
“We also do not have the ability to keep inspection up permanently. We have fuel problems. The reason we only carry out inspections on public roads is the lack of capacity,” he explains.Source: Deutsche Welle
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