Chinese companies operating in Mozambique should comply with local legislation for Sustainable Forest Management
The two day training, which was a collaboration between the State Forest Administration (SFA) of China and the National Directorate of Land and Forests (DNTF) in Mozambique and WWF featured more than 50 participants, mostly Chinese companies involved in forest management and timber trade coming from the 8 most important provinces of the country in regard to timber production.
The training held between 30th and 31st May 2013 is a step forward in the engagement of Chinese companies operating in Mozambique towards sustainable forest management whilst increasing understanding of the legal, institutional, socio-cultural context and challenges in which Chinese timber companies are operating in Mozambique.
Speaking during the training, the Cabo Delgado provincial Governor, Mr. Eliseu Machava noted that the training on Sustainable Forest Management guidelines would contribute to knowledge enhancement of the forest sector in Mozambique, which will ensure that the forests of Mozambique are safeguarded.
“The Government of Mozambique is concerned by the withholding of the real cubage of the timber to be exported. We hope that after this training, most of these issues will have been discussed. We also hope that this meeting will be a step forward towards finding common solutions for the challenges facing the forest sector in the country. The two countries have a strong and healthy partnership in many sectors. This should serve as a great opportunity to strengthen our cooperation in the forest sector,” said Mr. Machava.
During the event, participants presented a number of concerns such as the lack of capacity of the local market to absorb certain products, which is considered a barrier for the introduction of new products and, the difficulty to interpret the Mozambican forest legislation by some operators.
In response to these concerns, the National Director of the Land and Forest Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Simão Pedro, emphasised the need for Chinese companies to invest in local processing of timber in order to give added value to timber from Mozambique and, create more jobs locally. Mr. Pedro also appealed to Chinese companies to comply with local legislation in the forest sector.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Department of Development Planning and Finance Management at the State Forest Administration (SFA), Dr. Fu Jianqan, noted that it is important to strengthen the Chinese investment in Mozambique. He further noted that there are already many Chinese companies operating in Mozambique and as such, should comply with the Mozambican forest legislation so as to solidify investments and cooperation between both countries.
“Our companies should act in accordance with the Mozambican Law, and our government is engaged towards this end. Chinese companies should also work in partnership with the Mozambican government to assure a sustainable forest management,” said Dr. Jianquan.
In July 2011, a delegation led by the National Director of DNTF Mozambique visited China and held meetings with His Excellency the Ambassador of Mozambique to China and senior officials of SFA led by SFA Deputy-General Director of, Mr. Su Ming. During this meeting, potential areas for cooperation between SFA and DNTF were identified with the two institutions agreeing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the forest sector.
Some of the key areas that were identified as priority for co-operation were: Law enforcement, technical and financial capacity building of Chinese companies owning forest concessions in Mozambique to enable them effectively implement management plans, promotion of partnerships between Mozambican and Chinese companies for implementation of management plans, facilitation for the transition of simple license operators to forest concessionaires, translation and dissemination of forest legislation in the two countries in Portuguese, Chinese and/or English languages, reforestation/afforestation with involvement of local communities and private sector in order to address energy and conservation needs, development and sharing of databases about logging and timber trade, market information and improvement of the timber processing industry to ensure value addition to timber in Mozambique before export.
The aforementioned training comes on the heels of the July 2011 meeting in China and is expected to help boost efforts being made towards the signing of a formal MOU between the two countries on joint objectives towards sustainable forest management and trade.
WWF Mozambique Forest Programme Coordinator Rito Mabunda noted that only cooperation between China and Mozambique would lead to a more sustainable future for forests in Mozambique.
“About 20% of the forest concessions in Mozambique is held by the Chinese citizens and about one hundred of Chinese companies are involved in the timber trade industry. This scenario shows the importance of working with the Chinese companies, in order to influence them for sustainable forest management in Mozambique,” said Mr. Mabunda.
WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative has been at the forefront in promoting government to government cooperation that seeks to find solutions that contribute to sustainable management of forests which over 20 million people living in and along coastal forests and landscapes in eastern Africa depend on. The survival of these people is highly dependent on the availability of basic natural resources such as timber, wood-fuel and charcoal, which are extracted from forests, causing a serious dilemma; their dependency and consequent exploitation of these resources destroying the very basis of their existence.
By Alvo Ofumane and John Kabubu