Zambia announces indefinite ban on “In Transit” timber
Zambia, 20th April 2017—In an encouraging move for East African forestry management and timber trade, the Zambian government has announced a ban on all “In Transit” timber within the country. The declaration, passed today, takes place effective immediately until further notice.
17 species of timber have been specified within the official Statutory Instrument, with the most notable inclusions pertaining to Pterocarpus chrysothrix (mukula)—a threatened species most commonly sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The decision addresses ongoing international concerns that the country is being exploited by smuggling networks to transport timber to lucrative markets overseas, with primary destinations including China and Viet Nam.
Additional motivations for the ban include issues raised by the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. Namibia’s Chief Agricultural Scientific Officer said in a written letter to plant health officials that the country had been “experiencing serious problems with timber transported from the DRC and neighbouring countries via Zambia.”
TRAFFIC welcomes Zambia’s move to restrict the movement of timber in response to concerns over disease introductions and is encouraged by the country’s commitment to address timber trade issues. TRAFFIC would further encourage Zambia to consider becoming a signatory to the Zanzibar Declaration, a regional agreement aiming to ensure timber trade flows within eastern and southern Africa are carried out legally
David Newton, TRAFFIC's Director of East and Southern AfricaZambia’s announcement comes in the wake of increasing scrutiny of East African timber trade as well as calls for forest‐related multilateral agreements between countries within the region.
Earlier this month, eastern African nations including Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Madagascar, and mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, launched a steering committee for the Zanzibar Declaration on illegal timber trade.
TRAFFIC’s recent report Overview of the Timber Trade in East and Southern Africa: National Perspectives and Regional Trade Linkageshighlights the urgent need to address issues undermining legal, sustainable timber production in East Africa. The report includes recommendations to tighten cross-border enforcement and encourage better sharing of data to motivate management decisions such as the one taken by the Zambian government.