Mozambique’s parliament this month passed new legislation to protect its natural resources by cracking down on illegal trade in protected wildlife and illegal logging in its hardwood forests.
New wildlife legislation comes in the form of amendments to the Conservation Law of 2014 that increase fines and allow judges to impose prison terms of 12 to 16 years for poachers as well as those who finance poaching or receive illegal wildlife products. The initial 2014 legislation was a major step in combating trafficking in threatened and endangered species, especially elephants and rhinoceros. The new amendments seek to rectify omissions in the original law, such as lenient punishments for financers or recipients of illegally sourced goods and inconsistencies about the criminality of involvement in higher circles of the wildlife trafficking criminal network. The changes will enable law enforcement to crack down on higher-level wildlife trafficking rings, yielding a more significant impact on the fight to save Mozambique’s elephant, rhinoceros, and other endangered wildlife populations.
This is only one step, but we will need to do more not only in approving additional legislation but also making sure that these legislations are implemented. Mozambique is currently confronted with tremendous challenges to protect its natural capital particularly forests, wildlife and fisheries. Capacity building is among the major challenges to enable each of the three branches of government to play own role in cracking down illegal logging, poaching and illegal fishing. It is of crucial importance that the private sector, NGOs and development partners collaborate with Mozambique to strengthen the oversight function of the parliament, and the monitoring and protection of resources.”
— Hon. Francisco Mucanheia, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Economy, and the Environment
A new logging law bans exports of unprocessed timber logs and levies an export tax on unfinished or semi-processed timber products. Mozambique has seen its hardwood forests severely depleted over the past decade as a result of illegal logging and corruption in the timber sector. The new legislation, which was strongly supported by Members of Parliament and the citizens of Mozambique, is designed to stem these illegal practices and promote sustainable management of the country’s forest resources.
These legislative accomplishments come on the heels of President Nyusi’s visit to Washington, D.C. where he was awarded by ICCF for his commitment to conservation and sustainable governance of natural resources. Under the leadership of President Filipe Nyusi, Mozambique has developed a 5-year, 5-pillar plan that gives high priority to natural resource management.
Both sets of legislation were spearheaded by the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, and Rural Development in close coordination the Committee on Agriculture, Economy, and the Environment in the Mozambique Parliament. The Minister, Celso Correia and the Director of the National Agency for Conservation Areas (ANAC), Dr. Bartolomeu Soto, have together taken significant action to combat environmental crime and promote sustainable development through natural resources nationally and regionally. The Ministry has developed national strategies on wildlife crime and biodiversity, and in 2015 signed a major agreement with Tanzania to coordinate conservation in the Niassa-Selous ecosystem.
The Committee Chairman, Hon. Francisco Mucanheia, has taken a lead role in Parliament tackling conservation and sustainable natural resource management challenges. Hon. Mucanheia stated that “these challenges are huge."
Since 2014, the Government of Mozambique and The ICCF Group have collaborated to strengthen wildlife conservation initiatives in the country. Chairman Mucanheia is currently spearheading the development of a Parliamentary Agenda on Conservation that will receive support from ICCF. Chairman Mucanheia noted that “these achievements would not have been possible if we had not been engaged with ICCF since the beginning of the new government and legislature. The support and encouragement we received from ICCF has helped us to gain awareness of the dangers of poor management and not protecting resources, but also what measures can be taken, and what other countries are undertaking."