10 January 2013

Zambia: Halt Xue Jiang Timber Licence Bid - Permanent Secretary

EASTERN Province Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba has demanded the immediate revocation of Xue Jiang Corporation's timber licence application process in Petauke District.

Mr Mwamba said his instructions follow the failure by the firm to follow procedures and regulations.

Xue Jiang Corporation intended to harvest Mukwa, Ndale, Mubanga and Kaimbi species of trees But the Permanent Secretary called on the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to immediately discontinue a public advertisement that was calling for a public hearing in Petauke.

The advertisement was calling for submissions on the intended operations of the Chinese firm in Sandwe Open Forest.

Mr Mwamba was surprised that while the Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Wylbur Simusa had issued a countrywide ban on harvesting of natural and indigenous timber, some departments were considering to issue licences contrary to the spirit of the ban.

He was concerned that such activities were being proposed when the issuance of timber licences remained suspended since November last year.

He wondered how the firm issued an application to ZEMA when the law required that consideration should have been made to Petauke Forestry Department.

The Forestry Department should receive and forward an application and recommendations to the provincial forestry officer before an Environmental Impact Assessment (IEA) process could commence.

He said in the absence of such a process his office considered that the action by the Chinese firm and ZEMA was illegal.

ZEMA recently announced that there would be a public hearing for submissions on the proposal by Xue Jiang Corporation to harvest an area of 5,000 cubic metres of Mukwa, Ndale, Mubanga and Kaimbi species of trees from Sandwe Open Forest in Chief Sandwe's area in Petauke.

The company was expected to harvest 100 cubic metres of timber per month.

Mr Mwamba said the hearing was scheduled to take place on Thursday January 25, 2013

He has since requested his counterpart in the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Daisy Ng'ambi to halt the planned harvesting of timber.

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