October 30, 2009 -

Exploitation of Forest Resources in Mozambique
  by Ana Oliveira Rocha and Amina Abdala

I. Introductory Note

Exploitation of forest resources plays an important role in Mozambique’s economy. In fact, Mozambique has some 57 million hectares of native forests, 36% of which show great potential for the wood industry, while the remainder has great social and ecological value, supplying food, medicinal products and building and energy materials.

Some 80% of Mozambique’s population lives in rural areas and works almost exclusively in agriculture, livestock farming and use of forest resources for various purposes (medicinal, cultural, economic, and others). As such, there is a very close relationship between the population and the country’s natural resources, which makes the agricultural sector one of the most important to the national economy and development.

Keeping in mind the value and economic potential of Mozambique’s forest resources, current conservation areas include parks, reserves, and game parks, totalling some 10 million hectares, which is 12% of Mozambique’s national territory. The productive forest, i.e. the woodlands with potential for industrial logging, accounts for 19 million hectares, while multiple use forests total some 35 million hectares.

Under the constitution, flora and fauna resources are government property and the government controls them, authorising their appropriation or privatisation by private interests that include both individual and legal persons, as well as local communities.

II. Frameworks for Exploitation of Forest Resources in Mozambique

The Forest and Wild Fauna Law approved via Law no. 10/99 of 7 July and the Forest and Wild Fauna Law Regulations approved via Decree no. 12/2002 of 6 June enforce one of the following frameworks for the sustainable exploitation of forest resources or forest heritage: (i) Simple Licence Exploitation or (ii) Forest Exploitation: Contract Exploitation.

Forest exploitation under the Simple Licence Exploitation Framework may only be exercised by Mozambican individual persons or legal persons and by local communities in the productive forests and the multiple use forests for commercial, industrial and energy purposes, limited to an annual logging volume of 500 m³ per licence and for limited time periods.

The application for a simple licence shall be addressed to the Provincial Governor with jurisdiction over the intended exploitation area and submitted to the Forest and Wild Fauna Provincial Services responsible for undertaking the process and issuing the licence after approval from the Governor.

The forest exploitation licence can be renewed at the request of the holder, subject to an application addressed to the Provincial Governor with jurisdiction over the exploitation area, at least 30 days prior to its expiration.

The simple licence shall be transferable mortis causa.

Exploitation under the Forest Concession Exploitation Framework shall apply to the supply of the manufacturing industry and shall be permitted to any individual or legal person, Mozambican or foreign, as well as local communities that fulfil the following requirements: (i) having an available operating plan approved by the sector; (ii) having in place and guaranteeing technical capacity for industrial processing. Exploitation is licensed for a maximum term of 50 years, renewable for equal periods.

The forest concession applications shall be addressed to different entities in accordance with the size of the area to which the application relates:

(i) Up to 20,000 hectares, to the Provincial Governor;

(ii) From 20,000 to 100,000 hectares, to the Agriculture Minister;

(iii) Over 100,000, to the Council of Ministers.

The contract shall be signed by the Provincial Governor, representing the State.

The forest concession can be renewed at the request of the holder, subject to an application addressed to the relevant authority with jurisdiction over the exploitation area, at least 12 days prior to its expiration date.

Any individual or legal person, Mozambican or foreign, as well as local communities can own forestry plantations and exploit them, subject to approval from the Forest and Wild Fauna Provincial Services. Exploitation of these resources also presupposes that the interested party obtains the right to use and benefit from the land (DUAT) in the area that is the object of the plantation, in accordance with the Land Law, approved via Decree number 19/97 of 1 October.

III. Participation of Local Communities

In the process of granting exploitation rights via forest concession or simple licence, the local government shall consult the local communities covered by these areas. The hearing shall take place in the presence of the applicant or his representative and the consultation expenses paid by the applicant.

The local government shall call a meeting of the local community, expressly stating the objective of the meeting via an invitation to be delivered at least 15 days in advance.

The consultation shall be presided over by the District Administrator or the Head of the Administrative Post as delegated by the District Administrator. All interested parties, including the NGOs that work in the area, may attend the consultation as observers. In consulting the members of the community a consensus must be reached and the result of the discussion between the community members shall be documented, requiring the signature of at least ten members of the respective community for consensus.

IV. General Closed Period

There shall be a general closed period from 1 January to 31 March of each year. During this period it will be forbidden to undertake exploitation with a licence or forest concession contract. It will also be forbidden to cut down, drag and transport forest products from the cutting zone to the main border. The Regulations of the Forest and Wild Fauna Law stipulate a fine of 30,000.00 MT for exploiting the forest in the closed period.

V. Exploitation Charges

The amounts of the exploitation charges vary according to the type and volume of the forest resources that are exploited, ranging (i) between 100.00 MT and 2,000.00 MT per m³, depending on the value of the wood species in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th classes and precious; (ii) Between 100.00 MT and 150.00 MT per stere for building materials with a diameter of less than 20 cm, 3rd and 4th class species; (iii) 10.000 MT per stere of wood; and (iv) 100.00 MT per tonne of bark, gums, resins, leaves, fruits, seeds and other woodland products.

VI. Wood Export

Export of wood pertaining to first class species shall only be permitted after it has been processed.

The first class includes such wood as chanfuta, mecrusse, umbila and jambire. Processed wood is wood that is transformed from logs into boards, planks, girders, beams, parquet strips and veneer.

Wood from precious species of other classes can be exported in the form of logs without prior processing.