The Zambian government will auction Mukula logs, valued at more than US$10 million, seized during the crackdown on the illegal harvest of the endangered tree.
The logs were mostly confiscated in Muchinga Province, which has abundant timber resources. At the height of an intensified fight against the illegal harvest and trade in Mukula trees, President Edgar Lungu called in the army. Government also barred its export and transport through Zambia from neighbouring countries. The ban remains.
“We have plenty of logs that were confiscated from illegal traders and selling them is likely to generate US$10 billion,” said provincial minister Malozo Sichone.
Sichone said the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) will conduct the sale.
He said the money raised at the auction will help improve the socio-economic welfare of local people.
“Muchinga has plenty of trees, which are of commercial importance. In addition to Mukula, we have Mukwa and Mopani, which are also much sought after by timber traders. Stamping out the illegal trade must lead to the promotion of value addition that will help create much-needed jobs for local people,” he said.
An international investigation linked wealthy Chinese syndicates with the smuggling of the endangered tree species in Zambia and neighbouring countries.
According to the investigation, the syndicate uses a named country in the SADC region as a conduit for exporting the illegally harvested logs.