Mozambique news agency AIM reported last week that the Mozambican customs service has seized 30 containers full of logs that were about to be exported illegally to China through the port of Maputo.
The report said that the seizures began on 16 January in the town of Marracuene about 30 kilometres north of Maputo, where Customs located ten containers, each measuring 15 cubic metres, in a yard belonging to the Chinese firm Heng Yi.
As the investigations continued, the authorities discovered a further 20 containers already in the port waiting to be loaded onto a ship heading for China.
The containers in the Heng Yi yard contained mondzo, a species classified as a first grade hardwood, which cannot be exported without processing. Yet the mondzo logs had been packed into the containers without any inspection by the relevant authorities.
China is the biggest consumer of timber from Mozambique accounting for 85 percent of the 430,000 cubic metres of logs to leave the African country between 2000 and 2010, according to a study from the Mozambican Environmental Research Agency.
The study, cited by Mozambican daily newspaper Notícias also said that the value of wood exports to China in the period had risen from US$8 million to US$100 million between 2001 and 2010.
Mozambican wood is exported to China, South Africa, Germany, Japan, France, Mauritius, Malaysia, Thailand, Tanzania, Portugal, Israel, Vietnam, Singapore, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Croatia, Namibia, Dubai, India, Pakistan, the United States, Reunion Islands, and Italy.
Last week the containers in the port were still being unpacked to check exactly what types of wood they contain. Staff of the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT) said that the origin of the logs is still unclear, but their nature and diameter indicate that they came from the forests of Nampula and Zambezia provinces, or possibly from the northern part of Gaza.
China is the largest consumer of Mozambican timber, and the Chinese market accounted for 85 percent of the 430,000 cubic metres of logs that left Mozambique, much of it illegally, between 2000 and 2010, according to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based NGO that works to fight environmental crimes. Source – AIM
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