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Monday, 6 May 2013

Zambia lifts ban on timber exports

The Post, Zambia
04 May 2013

The Zambian Government should urgently transform the forestry department to ensure proper monitoring and management of forestry resources following the lifting of an export ban on timber, an industry body said yesterday.

Commenting on the lifting of the ban, the Zambian National Forest Conservation Organisation said the management of forestry affairs in the country was still scattered and uncoordinated with limited institutional enforcement and policy support to ensure proper monitoring and management of forestry resources. "In as much as we welcome the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Wylbur Simuusa's lifting of the timber ban with necessary conditions to protect forest resources, we are calling on the government to undertake a Forestry Department transformation process supported by a well-developed forestry policy framework to enable the department to enforce and monitor the new conditions," said Green Siame, National Forest Conservation Organisation executive director. "If the Forestry Department is to monitor and manage the forestry resources effectively, steps must be taken to improve staff levels and motivation, improved office infrastructure, appropriate technology response and provision of reliable transport for patrols and other forest management programmes."

Siame further said the department also needed to improve collaboration with local community members and stipulate clear-cut benefits sharing mechanisms with them. "As a forest conservation organisation, we are more concerned with the alarming rate of deforestation in Zambia than timber merchants trading freely and independently at the cost of poor community participation in sustainable forest management programmes," said Siame.

LCCI further added that the lifting of the timber export ban would create a positive environment for its members who were willing to follow the government's laid down procedures and conditions to do business. The government last year suspended the issuance of timber licences to protect the depleting forests around the country.

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