By ZBC Reporter
THE local timber industry continues to bleed from massive deforestation, with authorities estimating that the country is losing several millions of United States Dollars annually in potential revenue from timber sales.
Gazetted forests are under siege as timber poachers are decimating commercial and indigenous timber, costing the nation at least 100 cubic metres of timber annually.
The most affected areas include Manicaland and Matabeleland North Provinces where organised syndicates have established illegal sites for processing charcoal.
Authorities worry over this environmental crime, amid revelations that the nation lost 262 000 hectares of forests last year.
“Illegal logging is a huge cost because if you look at the value of the lost trees into runs into several millions of dollars and that’s excluding the huge cost on the environment. Last year we intercepted one hundred thousand worth of poached timber within a two-month period and if you transpose that over twelve months it gives you a picture of the impact of this vice,” said Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe Acting General Manager Mr Stephen Zingwena
Equally affected is the timber sector which describes illegal logging as one of the major issues affecting their industry as explained by Tobacco Producers Association Chief Executive Officer Mr Darlington Duwa.
“Timber poachers are draining the sector and the cost on the industry is very huge. Though we are still compiling the figures for the past year, our inventory indicates the cost will again remain unsustainable high,” he said.
Despite the existence of the Forestry Act which prohibits anyone from cutting trees or timber without a licence , authorities say the syndicates take advantage of gaps within the judicial window where arrested individuals escape with only a nominal fine.