Promoting legality in the Mozambican forest sector: protection for natural resources and benefits for local communities


Cheringoma, 28 September 2021

New forest management plan and timber traceability system proposed this week for the Muanza-Inhaminga corridor

With over 40 percent of its national territory covered by forests[1], Mozambique is one of Africa’s greatest timber exporters. Legality and sustainability issues in the Mozambican forest sector have surfaced as a consequence of the country’s growing presence on the international timber market. Between 2007 and 2013, an estimated USD 145 million worth of government tax revenue was lost due to illegality – a resource which could have been used for the development of the sector. To address the issue and support the sector in reaching its full economic and environmental potential, the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme partnered with the Gorongosa Restoration Project (GRP) to promote timber legality along the Muanza-Inhaminga corridor, in the central province of Sofala.

Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the development of local capacities

The joint initiative aimed at developing a forest management plan for the Muanza-Inhaminga corridor. The corridor borders the Gorongosa National Park (GNP) and includes significant areas of its demarcated buffer zone, an extension of the Park’s conservation area which serves as a fence to protect the rich biodiversity contained within, in addition to providing a safe space for local communities to carry out income-generating activities. To develop the forest management plan, a forest resources inventory was conducted on 200 000 hectares of forested area in the region, providing a clear idea of the commercially viable natural resources available.

The new forest management plan will orient future investments and commercial analyses of the forest, including those led by community forest enterprises. The plan foresees the involvement of Natural Resources Management Committees (NRMCs) made up of community members themselves. Efforts to engage local communities in creating economic and environmental benefits were kickstarted with the training of 41 community members from eight different communities located along the Muanza-Inhaminga corridor on sustainable forest management topics. “Local communities play a lead role in the protection and responsible use of the country’s natural resources. We expect that the involvement of these communities will be facilitated and channeled through the new forest management plan, generating benefits for the forest and for the population,” stated Ms Hercilia Chipanga, GRP Community Relations Sector Senior Manager, at the project’s closing workshop.

In addition, data collected through the inventory was used to start developing a local timber traceability system, piloted by the Levasflor forest concession, and is expected to advance timber transparency objectives.

Following the project’s closure, the new forest management plan and pilot timber traceability system were presented to district government authorities and forest operators from Muanza and Cheringoma. Local community members will be trained on the use and application of the new traceability system which, being easily adaptable to community use, will be replicated in other forest concessions along the corridor. The management plan will be applied to the northern community conservation areas of Maciombosa, Chidanga, Muandimai, Catemo and Nhabua. Moreover, forest management recommendations listed in the plan will be shared with the central government to contribute to upcoming decision-making processes with regards to the issuing of forest harvesting licenses.

Although much remains to be done in the area, developing and applying the new forest management plan and strengthening local structures for the responsible use of natural resources are essential first steps to achieve national conservation goals. Through the initiative, a solid foundation has been built to empower local communities to fulfill their roles in the fight against illegal logging and in the sustainable management of the country’s forests in the long run.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

Since 2016 the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has supported four projects in Mozambique, amounting to approximately USD 400 000, primarily focusing on reducing illegal logging through strengthening the private sector in sustainable forest use and supporting the role of local communities in the management and monitoring of forest resources.


For more information:

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

FAO in Mozambique

Gorongosa Restoration Project

Related story : Women at the forefront of sustainable forest management in Mozambique

[1] World Bank. 2018. Forests of Mozambique – a snapshot. [online]. [30 September 2021].