The Port of Walvis Bay will have an opportunity to handle more than 600 40-foot containers of timber in the next six months and double that quantity in the next 12 months following the lifting of a ban on timber exports by the Zambian government, Namport’s bulletin released this week highlighted.
According to the bulletin, timber has already started flowing into Walvis Bay by two notable companies; Maiba tree enterprises and Sikale woods, and more companies will follow suit since timber export licenses take time due to strict measures enforced by the Zambian government.
Two years ago, the Zambian government banned the felling and transport of a tree known locally as mukula – Pterocarpus chrysothrix, a relative of rosewood – in a bid to curb its rapid loss fueled by growing demand in Asia.
Since August 2021, there have been no timber exports from Zambia, due to the ban the new government imposed. The claim was that they needed to audit the sector to remove illegal practices and bad actors. This action had a reducing impact on corridor volumes for the first and second quarters of 2022. However, with effect from May 2022, the government announced the lifting of the export ban on timber exports, this ban has now permitted the affected in the industry to start obtaining timber export licenses.
Between 2001 and 2014, Zambia lost more than 1 million hectares, an area roughly the size of Lebanon in western Asia of three types of Pterocarpus trees, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Before the timber ban, harvesters needed a license to cut trees, which specified the location, tree species, and estimated fees to be paid to the authorities. But because of the ever-growing international demand for timber, together with high prices of wood, most harvesters have been felling the forests without a license and exporting them illegally to Asia.
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