Malawi: Collins Mtika reports on illegal timber trade

Writing for Malawi 24, Collins Mtika has explored how Chinese investors, aided by Malawians, have been illegally harvesting and trading the country’s hard wood.

The story, published on 9th July 2015, explains how through bribery and corruption, timber is being illegally traded and exported, depriving Malawi of its natural resources and collectable tax revenue from sales.

Malawians fronting Chinese interest in illegal timber harvesting licenses

Malawi’s switch of diplomatic ties to mainland China from Taiwan in 2008 also opened the country’s forests both man-made and natural to a plethora of Chinese so called ‘investors’.

Estimates of Malawi’s forest cover vary widely but official sources suggest that in 2005 there was 3.4 million hectares of forest cover (36.2% of total land area) and 33,000 hectares was being deforested per year.

There are about 61 government plantations ranging in different sizes scattered throughout the country. The total annual production of timber in Malawi is estimated at 160,000 m³.

Malawi is naturally endowed with vast miombo woodlands, characterised by the general Brachystegia, Julbernadia and Isoberlinadia.

From 2008 to date, Malawians including MPs and Cabinet ministers have pursued personal aggrandizement by aiding or fronting for the Chinese in hacking the country’s protected hard wood, a recent parliamentary committee report on natural resources confirmed. Click here for full article.