Mozambique is Africa’s largest exporter of timber to China. Yet multiple published concerns over the sustainability and legality of that timber trade assert the rapid commercial depletion of future timber stocks, the marginalisation of local forest communities, and the loss of revenue to government estimated at US$146 million between 2007 and 2013 alone.
This report takes a step back to explore what options exist for incentives to improve the forest practice of Chinese timber traders and concession holders and their Mozambican partners. Drawing on research in the forest sector, it identifies six potential areas of concern for those operators. It then outlines for each area possible incentives that might be developed to improve forest practice. The set of 18 incentive types may not be exhaustive, but the questionnaire survey of government, civil society and private sector actors did not reveal further major sources of incentive. Table 1 summarises our initial understanding about these areas of concern for operators and possible incentive types to improve their practice. Each incentive type is ranked in terms of its perceived potential for beneficial impact by 26 Mozambique forest experts (five private-sector experts, seven NGO forest experts, five government forest authority staff, and nine forest experts from research or teaching institutions). Many of these incentive types are generic, in the sense that they are applicable as much to Mozambican operators as to Chinese operators. But there are also some China-specific opportunities. These relate to the characteristics, preferred timber specifications and reputational sensitivities of the Chinese timber market, to emerging Chinese policies based on guidelines and a timber legality verification system, and to the organisational dynamics of Chinese traders and concession holders in Mozambique.
In short, there are ways in which a useful China–Mozambique engagement could incentivise change above and beyond what might be possible by working with Mozambican operators alone. A summary of the multiple different incentive categories is presented below in Table 1. The pie charts summarise a sequential numerical ranking made by the 26 Mozambique forest experts described above. For each expert, their first six ranked options were afforded the status of high priority, the second six ranked options of medium priority, and the final six ranked options of low priority. The aggregate number of times an option was ranked high, medium or low priority forms the basis for the pie chart. In addition, the top six ranked options overall are highlighted in yellow with a description of their numerical ranking.
Authors and Publishers
Macqueen, D and Falcão, M
Our mission is to build a fairer, more sustainable world, using evidence, action and influence in partnership with others.
Who we are