Mozambique has been awarded a $6m loan from the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to halt the rapid pace of deforestation.
The agreement adds to the $47m Mozambique Forest Investment Project (MozFIP), which was recently approved by the World Bank to help combat deforestation in the country and create alternative livelihoods for rural communities.
“Mozambique’s forests can be a significant source of income and a key contributor to the national economy,” said Xavier Sakambuera, national director of forests for the Ministry of Environment, Land and Rural Development.
“They can generate benefits to the global community by harbouring unique and threatened habitats and by stocking billions of tons of CO2.”
Andre Aquino, senior natural resources management specialist at the World Bank, said: “Mozambique has engaged in several reforms in the past two years, and has taken some bold actions.”
The export of logs was banned, he said. “An independent law enforcement agency was created to oversee forests and seize illegal logs to be publicly auctioned or used for school desks and chairs.”
Incentives, such as certification giving access to new international markets and higher prices, were proposed to local enterprises promoting the sustainable use of forest assets.
However, a lack of technology, such as high-resolution satellite imaging to aid forest management, has created a barrier to implementing these reforms, according to the World Bank.
The organisations will collaborate on a project that will include preparing a 20-year forest vision, a geo-referenced forest information system, and a review of forest concessions.
China has been accused of playing a key role in Mozambique’s deforestation. Environmental research organisation IIED said in 2014 that Mozambique was Africa’s biggest timber exporter to China. Between two and four times the sustainable level of the main commercial types of wood was being harvested in the country, it said.
A report by the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said that 93% of logging in Mozambique during 2013 was illegal. A further 93% of these illegal harvests went to China.
“The staggering level of illegal logging and timber smuggling for the Chinese market has put harvesting volumes way beyond sustainable levels, despite claims to the contrary by Mozambican officials,” said EIA forest campaigner Jago Wadley. “If the excessive focus on just a handful of commercial timber species continues, commercial stocks will be largely depleted during the next 15 years.”
The NGO said illegal logging had deprived Mozambique of $146m in lost tax revenues since 200.