18 March 2005

Mozambique: Foreigners Damage Forest Resources in Zambezia

Maputo — The government of the central Mozambican province of Zambezia has accused business people of Asian origin of responsibility for the indiscriminate exploitation of local forest resources, reports Friday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias".

The government says that Asian businesses, in addition to their own forestry activities, are financing inexperienced Mozambican operators. They simply cut down trees, and then export the unprocessed logs, through the port of Quelimane, and often across the land border with Malawi.

This was the first time that the Zambezia provincial government has publicly acknowledged that logging in the province has been characterised by a wide range of illegal activities, that lead to the indiscriminate felling of precious hardwoods.

Morrumbala, Maganja da Costa, Pebane, and Mocuba, are the most affected districts, and operators of Chinese origin are said to have established a sort of "embassy" for this business in the Quelimane city.

However, part of the blame goes is placed on those Mozambicans who cooperate with the foreigners in these illegalities.

To try and check this trend, the government is recommending stricter rules and efficient control of exports, not only at the port, but also on the land borders. The government plans to open three new inspection posts on the Mozambique/Malawi border, through which it is believed that many of those illegal exports are moved.

The new posts are to be equipped with adequate infrastructures and communications systems.

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