Timber License Suspension

From Zambian Economist Thu Nov 22 2012, 22:49:00

Government recently suspended all timber licences "to protect the depleting forests around the country". Ministerial statement is embedded below. During the suspension period, no indigenous logs, cants or poles will be felled or transported to any destination. Any found will be confiscated and forfeited to the State. Natural Resources Minister Wylbur Simuusa says the move would NOT apply to exotic timber plantations or timber that is legally extracted, processed and was in timber yards, factories or markets.

Mr Simuusa says he has received many complaints : not all timber license orders are abiding by their terms; a lot of debris and branch wood is left on stumps affecting natural regeneration; many forest licenses have not demarcated their boundaries; poor or lack of fire management regimes; rampant local boundary disputes; and, over cutting and illegal purchasing of timber from local communities and chiefdoms.

The ban appears fraught with difficulties from the start. It has been opposed by the Zambia National Association for Saw Millers who have asked the government to immediately reverse the ban on the harvesting, movement and trade of hard wood. It says the ban on the issuance of hard wood licences will only encourage smuggling, illegal harvesting and trade of such timer products. Those dealing in hard wood have not only lost business but many jobs have been lost in the timber sector following the ban of hard wood timber licenses. The association says the country had enough forests stocks and therefore sees no need for an immediate ban.

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