Mozambican authorities have confiscated the country’s largest haul of illegal timber in the northern port of Nacala as it was getting ready to be illegally exported.
The consignment comprised 1,300 containers of logs with an estimated value of $800,000. Their eventual destination was believed to be China.
China is the main importer of wood from Mozambique and there have been incidents of Chinese nationals participating in logging without licenses in the country.
Chinese traders, according to International Institute for Environment and Development, an environmental research organization, accounted for over 90 percent of Mozambican timber exports.
The BBC quotes Olivia Amosse, director of the national agency for environmental quality control, as confirming that this was the largest single seizure of illegal timber in the southern African country’s history.
If caught, the culprits would be charged and also have to pay more than the value of the seized logs, over $900,000, in fines. Amosse also confirmed that the logs would be sold at a public auction.
As part of efforts to protect the country’s hardwood forests, the Mozambican Parliament last week unanimously passed the second and final reading of a bill that will ban the export of unprocessed timber logs.
Under the new law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, semi-processed timber (such as beams, planks and parquet) may be exported but will be subject to an export tax. There is no tax on the export of finished wooden goods, such as furniture.
The law is expected to halt the devastation of the African country’s forests, which are experiencing extreme depletion. The issue of illegal logging in the country has also been identified as a key source of revenue loss to the government.