Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata has said all illegal cargoes of Mukula logs that have been seized by the state will be forfeited to the state and sold off.
Ms. Kapata said the Zambia Forestry and Forestry Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) Limited will auction off the contraband. She was speaking when she addressed ministerial staff in Ndola today.
The Minister expressed concern about the illegal trade and indiscriminate cutting of the trees whose botanical name is Pterocarpus chrysothrix that is growing and threatening Zambian forests. The tree takes about 80 years to reach full growth and maturity.
Government to date has suspended export of wood or logs of any Timber Tree Species including logs of the famous Mukula Tree.
Ms Kapata who earlier this year spoke after the ban said Timber export permits will only be issued for processed or sawn timber.
She explained that the move is in accordance with Statutory Instrument number 94 of 2015.
Meanwhile, some traders have complained that the origin of their cargoes is actually the Democratic Republic of Congo and are upset that the Zambian authorities are seizing their cargoes that are in transit to other destinations.
China as well as Thailand in particular where the demand is almost insatiable has fuelled the illegal trade and smuggling.
Smugglers have devised methods of exporting the timber, through neighboring countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Prior to the surge in demand for the tree species in 2014, Zambians showed general disinterest as villagers used it in constructing their mud houses, farmers used it to cure their tobacco, and railway companies used it as slippers.
The rampant growth in the Mukula trade awoke interest in monitoring how the timber industry has been operating and how the country’s precious timber is being exported. This sudden increase in demand forced government to suspend the issuance of licences for harvesting the species and now being found with a piece of the tree has became a serious crime.