Risk Tool

COUNTRY PRODUCTION STATUS While domestic consumption dominated production in the early part of the 2000’s, since 2007 demand in Chinese markets has suddenly increased exports from Mozambique, so that now exports are the primary driver of timber production in country. To find out more, click here.

LAWS Mozambique has a number of laws and regulations pertaining to forest management, wood harvesting, processing and trade. To find out more, click here.

TRANSPARENCY Information on transparency and governance indicators can be found here.

CITES Mozambique acceded to CITES in 1981. Click here for more information.

CONTACTS AND ORGANIZATIONS IN MOZAMBIQUE Several industry associations, civil society, and government agencies work on forest related issues in Mozambique. Their profile and contacts are found here.

Last updated: October 2016

Forest Resources

Resources Overview

According to the latest FAO 2015 figures, Mozambique has a total forest cover1,2 of approximately 37.9 million hectares and 14.4 million hectares of other wooded areas, extending over 48.2% of the country’s land mass.3 Natural vegetation varies from evergreen to deciduous, from mountainous, to lowland, gallery4 and mangrove forest and from forest to grass.5

About two-thirds of the country’s forests are Miombo woodlands, covering most of the northern region and part of the central region, where the open broadleaved Brachystegia spp. is common. The Miombo forest is characterized by a dense vegetation cover, with deciduous and semi-deciduous trees, often reaching between 10 and 20 meters. Due to its generally fertile soils, Miombo forests are used for agriculture, as well as for firewood, charcoal, domestic animal feeding, and medicinal plants.6

The Mopane Forest is the second most extensive forest type found in the country, occurring especially in the Limpopo­Save area and upper Zambezi Valley. It is characterised predominantly by the occurrence of trees and bushes, and the Colophospermum Mopane savannah-type forest is dominant.  The unsuitability of the soils for planting and the occurrence of large numbers of fauna in the Mopane forests has resulted in the conservation of large areas, such as those forming the Banhine, Zinave and Gorongosa Parks.7

Generally, the north of the country has denser and less exploited forests than southern Mozambique. Most provinces have large areas of unspoiled forest, but forest diversity is poorly documented.8

According to the FAO, there is no primary forest9 which they define as “naturally regenerated forest of native species, where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities”.10 However there is 37.8 million ha of ‘other naturally regenerated forest’ which is defined by the FAO as “naturally regenerated forest where there are clearly visible indications of human activities” or (for the purposes of reporting) areas where it is not possible to distinguish whether a forest is planted or naturally regenerated.11 According to the latest FAO figures (2015), total timber production areas cover 20.1 million hectares (ha), and 9.4 million ha are forest conservation areas.12 Since 2010, the area of forest designated for conservation or biodiversity has grown by 18% per year.13 In 2013, 53% of total timber production was exported, 98% of which went to China, with the remaining 47% of production consumed domestically. Almost 90% of domestic consumption and exports are dominated by just five species: Chanfuta (Afzelia Quanzensis), Umbila (Pterocarpus angolensis), Jambirre (Millettia Stuhlamnii), Mondzo (Combretum imberbe) and Pau Ferro (Swartzia madagascnriensis).14 The estimated growing stock is 1,377,000,000 m3.15

One of the main causes of deforestation in the country is human pressure in the form of forest burning to open cultivation areas, firewood collection and charcoal production. Active fires can be monitored via Global Forest Watch’s fire map. Global Forest Watch’s figures show that between 2001 – 2014, 2,048,678 Ha of tree cover was lost.16 The latest FAO 2015 figures report a deforestation rate of 0.58% of total forest cover, equivalent to an annual loss of 219,000 ha of forest.17

Numerous studies (EIA’s First Class Connections18, February 2013, and EIA’s First Class Crisis19, July 2014) have shown that Mozambique has a high rate of illegal logging. EIA claims in the First Class Crisis report that Mozambique suffered an illegal logging rate of 81% between 2007 and 2012, increasing to 93% in 2013, leading them to believe that if logging continues at the same rate, the standing stock of first and precious class species will be completely logged out by 2029.


The FAO define forest cover as “land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10%, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.”

The amount of forest area referenced here relies on the UN FAO definition of forests, since the FAO definition is one of the world’s most widely used standards for measuring and reporting forest area at the country level. The FAO forest definition, however, has been criticized because it captures monoculture plantations and includes areas designated as forest land-use, even when those areas are un-stocked with trees at the time of measuring forest area. It should also be noted that the FAO definition counts areas with 10% or more canopy cover as forests (in addition to other criteria). By comparison, for example, Global Forest Watch sets its default tree cover canopy analysis tool at 30 % canopy cover. For more information on this issue, see the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment website, in addition to this open letter signed by civil society organizations from around the world, as well as these articles by Vidal et. al.Mather and Mathews and Grainger

3 FAO (2015), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf  

4 A gallery forest is one that form as corridors along rivers or wetlands and project into landscapes that are otherwise only sparsely treed such as savannas, grasslands or deserts

World Rainforest Movement (2008), https://wrmbulletin.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/an-overview-of-the-problems-faced-by-mozambiques-forests-forest-dependent-peoples-and-forest-workers/

6 World Rainforest Movement (2008), https://wrmbulletin.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/an-overview-of-the-problems-faced-by-mozambiques-forests-forest-dependent-peoples-and-forest-workers/

World Rainforest Movement (2008), https://wrmbulletin.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/an-overview-of-the-problems-faced-by-mozambiques-forests-forest-dependent-peoples-and-forest-workers/

World Rainforest Movement (2008), https://wrmbulletin.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/an-overview-of-the-problems-faced-by-mozambiques-forests-forest-dependent-peoples-and-forest-workers/

FAO (2015), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf

10 FAO (2015) http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/ap862e/ap862e00.pdf

11 FAO (2015) http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/ap862e/ap862e00.pdf

12 FAO (2015), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf

13 Conservation area has increased by 18% since the previous assessment. While this can likely be attributed to improvements in data collection (as previously data was unavailable), the World Bank also began a significant investment project called MozBio, a $40 M USD project focused on developing conservation areas for biodiversity in late 2014. This includes training staff and increasing capacity as well as engaging tourism consultants on securing private concessions of conservation areas. The project will run until 2018 and so the next assessment may also show significant changes to conversation area.  For more information regarding the World Bank project, go to http://www.worldbank.org/projects/P131965/?lang=en&tab=overview

14 IIED (2015) http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G03947.pdf

15 FAO (2015), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf

16 Global Forest Watch, last accessed September 2016.  http://www.globalforestwatch.org/country/MOZ

17 FAO (2015), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf

18 EIA (2013), http://www.eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-First-Class-Connections.pdf 

19 EIA (2014), https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/First-Class-Crisis-English-FINAL.pdf

Forest Resources

About Forest Resources

This section provides an overview of the country's forest cover and a list of species found naturally and on plantations.

Forest Management

Management Overview

As the main custodian and owner of all national forests, the government manages and allocates forests to other stakeholders. Local communities can lease portions of the forest estate if they are registered according to the laws. Forests in Mozambique are divided into three types of forests: conservation forests, production forests and multiple use forests.1  Conservation forests are located in protected areas and can only be exploited upon approval of a special management plan; they equate to 16% of the national territory and are legally under state management, although there is increased delegation of management to the private sector.2 Production forests are mostly located in the central and northern parts of the country3 and are considered to have high forestry potential by the state. Subject to ordinary management plans,4 they are generally allocated to private operators under long-term concessions or annual licenses, but local communities are also eligible to exploit them in this way.5 Multiple use forests are forests not located in protected areas that have low forestry potential6 and are generally subject to competitive uses and users.7 FAO statistics from 2015 show that there is no multiple use forest area recorded.8

The 1999 Forest and Wildlife law establishes two types of license for legal timber production: forest concessions and simple licenses. Concessions are granted to national or non-national operators for areas larger than 20,000 ha with an approved management plan, and can be allocated for up to 50 years, while simple licenses offer harvesting quotas of 500 cubic meters or less, annually over five years and exclusively to national operators.9 The simple license system is the most problematic due to its inability to ensure any sustainability in forest resource exploitation.10 It is popular with forest operators because, unlike the forest concession system, it brings no obligation with respect to reforestation, no duties towards local communities, does not require the installation of a processing plant, and requires no detailed forest inventory, nor the approval of a management plan.11

In 2012, production forests covered 20.1 million ha and conservation forests cover 9.4 million ha12 with the Annual Allowable Cut permitting a maximum harvest in production and conservation forests of between 515,000 - 640,000 cubic meters per year.13 Before the approval of a concession, an inventory has to be completed and a comprehensive Forest Management Plan (FMP) approved.14 However, there are a number of issues related to these inventories and FMPs, including poor quality inventories and ignorance about the exact extent of the forest resource.  In addition, there is a limited availability of consultants being able to develop plans and inventories, a low enforcement with annual harvesting blocks not being strictly demarcated, no planned annual cutting cycle of designated cutting blocks, and operators are able to start activities before FMPs are approved. In 2007 for instance, from 137 existing concessions only 72 had approved management plans.15 The number of concessions increased in 2009 to 167, the areas with the most concessions being Cabo Delgado (20% of concessions), Zambezia (26.3% of concessions) and Sofala (17.4%).16 According to a UN report17, in 2013 there were 179 forest concessions covering more than 7 million ha (the report does not state how many companies owned these concessions as it appears this information is not publicly available).

The National Directorate of Land and Forests licenses loggers, providing them with a limited harvest quota. They set up strategic checkpoints in bottleneck roads leading out of forested areas verifying whether the transported timber tallies against the permitted quotas, thus in theory ensuring compliance.18 Decree No. 12/81 establishes the table of logging quota for precious tree species for 2016, specifying quotas by province and quantity to be allowed for license holders.

Global Forest Watch has produced an Interactive Forest Atlas and Statistics for Mozambique, outlining headline statistics for, amongst others, tree cover loss and gain, international forest certification area, and economic value of Mozambique's forestry sector.

Mozambique’s 118 commercial timber species are categorized into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and “precious” classes, reflecting quality, uses, demand intensity, and establishing relevant taxes.  Since 2002, the 22 “1st class” species have been banned from export in log form, and require processing within Mozambique before they can leave the country.19 All concession holders are obliged by law to have the capacity to process their raw timber, thus contributing value to the timber industry in-country. In November 2015 the government announced a two-year ban20 on all export of raw timber logs and suspended the logging of certain species including the ironwood tree. Legislation passed in 2012 resulted in simple licenses being extended from one year to five. By having forest area change hands less frequently, it was hoped that license holders would become incentivized to take up sustainable forest management.21

The Environmental Investigation Agency’s (EIA) 2013 report “First Class Connections: Log Smuggling, Illegal Logging and Corruption in Mozambique22 stated that the majority of concession holders are Chinese, and that the difference between the volume of licensed exports and the volume of reported Chinese imports indicated that 46% of total Chinese imports from Mozambique in 2013 was unlicensed on export, and therefore illegal. The report goes on to state that “…with 76 per cent of Mozambique’s 2013 export volumes being produced in excess of reported harvests, and factoring in the 93 per cent illegal logging rate in Mozambique, the scale of illicit timber in this trade is amplified. It could be argued that between 76 and 93 per cent of Mozambican timber imported into China was illegal at source”. The report also describes several serious cases of smuggling and alleged participation by government ministers in illegal lumber exploitation deals.

Mozambique is engaged in various initiatives and has signed conventions at the regional and international levels with the aim of promoting the sustainable management of its forest ecosystems and organizing against illegal use of forest resources. Such initiatives include but are not limited to:

  1. Participation in REDD since 2008;23
  2. A planned Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Director of the Forest Authority (National Directorate of Land and Forest, DNTF) and the Chinese State Forestry Administration (SFA) on joint objectives toward sustainable forest management. Discussions commenced in 2011 and though it is not clear if the MoU has been signed, in 2013 both governments moved to promote sustainable forest management through supporting training and guidance to Chinese companies operating overseas;24
  3. Signatory of CITES in 1981;25
  4. Member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature;26
  5. Signatory of the Convention on Biodiversity in 199527; and
  6. Signatory of the Yaoundé Ministerial Declaration on African Forest Law Enforcement and Governance28 committing to 42 indicative actions against illegal logging.


Access to information of any kind in relation to forestry in Mozambique is extremely limited. Even annual reports by the Forest Authority are not freely available online, and while Mozambique passed a freedom of information bill in late November 2014, it does not provide an independent mechanism to oversee its implementation or respond to public complaints.29 The NGO Transparency International has also called for better enforcement of anti-corruption law, claiming low implementation capacity and poor incentives within the country to promote clean business dealings.30 In 2016 there have been cases of anti-corruption protesters being harmed.31 The country’s long-lasting civil war and general lack of human and financial resources also contribute to low transparency levels. For information, please see the Forest Production section.

Transparency International (TI): On TI’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures perceived levels of public-sector corruption on a scale of 0-100 (0 = 100% corruption and 100 = no corruption), Mozambique is ranked 112 out of 167 countries32, scoring a corruption index of 31 out of 100. This means it has a perception of relatively high corruption.  The levels of perception of corruption are similar to 2014 where Mozambique was ranked 119 out of 175 countries with a corruption index of 31. 

The World Bank compiles a set of Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) for all world economies. These indicators are important barometers in terms of risk assessment. The WGI country reports are based on six aggregate governance indicators: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption. Countries are ranked (percentile rank model) for each of the six governance indicators on a scale from 0 to 100 where 0 corresponds to lowest rank and 100 corresponds to highest rank (better governance).

According to the 2015 Country Data Report for Mozambique33, the country scored 41 in Voice and Accountability; 32 in Political Stability and Absence of Violence; 24 in Government Effectiveness; 38 in Regulatory Quality; 22 in Rule of Law; and 28 in Control of Corruption. These figures are all indications that governance in Mozambique still needs significant improvement.


FAO (2012), http://www.fao.org/forestry/country/57478/en/moz/

Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

3 Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

4 FAO (2012), http://www.fao.org/forestry/country/57478/en/moz/

Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

6 FAO (2012), http://www.fao.org/forestry/country/57478/en/moz/

Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

FAO (2015), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf

Wertz-Kannounnikoff (2013), http://www.illegal-logging.info/sites/default/files/Mozambique_forest_concession_system.pdf

10 Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

11 Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

12 FAO (2012), http://www.fao.org/forestry/country/57478/en/moz/

13 Assessment of harvested volume and illegal logging in Mozambican natural forest, 2013, http://www.illegal-logging.info/sites/default/files/FAEF_Mozambique_Report.pdf

14 Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

15 Norfolk and Cosijn (2013), www.scielo.org.za/pdf/pelj/v16n2/06.pdf

16 Wertz-Kanounnikof (2013), http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/articles/AWertz-Kanounnikoff1301.pdf

17 United Nations (2013), http://www.un.org/esa/forests/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Mozambique.pdf

18 European Commission (2014) https://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/system/files/file/31/10/2014_-_1655/final_flegt_study_-_mozambique_feb_2014.pdf

19 FAO (2002),Article 12,  http://faolex.fao.org/docs/pdf/moz61589.pdf

20 African Geographic (2015), http://africageographic.com/blog/mozambique-announces-immediate-ban-timber-exports/

21 Ekman, Wenbin and Langa  (2013) http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/WPapers/WP122Ekman.pdf

22 EIA (2013), http://www.eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-First-Class-Connections.pdf

23 REDD+ (2016), http://www.redd.org.mz/page.php?id=53

24 IIED (2015), http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G03947.pdf

25 CITES (2016) https://cites.org/eng/cms/index.php/component/cp/country/MZ

26 IUCN (2016) https://www.iucn.org/regions/eastern-and-southern-africa/countries/mozambique

27 Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs (1997), https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/mz/mz-nr-01-en.pdf

28 AFLEG (2003), http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTFORESTS/Resources/AFLEGMinisterialDeclaration_English.pdf

29 FreedomInfo (2014) http://www.freedominfo.org/2014/11/mozambique-assembly-oks-freedom-information-law/

30 Transparency International (2016) http://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/better_enforcement_of_anticorruption_laws_needed_to_clean_up_business_in_mo

31 Transparency International (2016) http://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/transparency_international_strongly_condemns_shooting_of_professor_jose_mac

32 Transparency International (2015), http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015/

33 World Bank (2015), http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#countryReports

Forest Management

About Forest Management

This section provides an overview of the country's forest management, transparency indicators, CITES Agreement information as it applies to the country, and relevant laws and regulations (i.e. forestry laws, processing/manufacturing laws, trade laws, tax laws, and transport laws).

Forest Products

Production Status

Forest products harvested in Mozambique include industrial roundwood, sawnwood, railway sleepers, veneer, plywood, charcoal and wood chips. However, the industry is dominated primarily by the production of logs and sawn timber, accounting for 90% of total production volume. According to the latest FAO data (2015), industrial round wood production totaled 1,984,000 m3. Round wood exports totaled 492,000 min 2015.1 ITTO’s 2014 annual review figures show that industrial round wood production totaled 2,370,000 m3.2 The Mozambican government sets an Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) range of 515,000mto 640,000meach year, considerably lower than the total production figures reported above. While domestic use never reaches the lower limit of this range, import figures of Mozambican timber from other countries (such as China) combined with domestic use data, has exceeded the lower limit since 2007, and been above the upper limit since 2009.3 The government stopped monitoring forest exploitation by individual species in 2009 for reasons unknown, and it is suggested by several reports that the quotas for more valuable species are being substantially exceeded.4

Between 2007 – 2014, EIA’s 2014 First Class Crisis reports5 that an average of 81% of all logging in Mozambique was illegal. In 2013, EIA indicated that 93% of logging in the country was illegal. The vast majority of exports (93% on average between 2007 and 2013) were shipped to China. In 2013, when Mozambique became China’s biggest African supplier of logs by value, 46% of China’s 516,296 m3 of timber imports from Mozambique were also smuggled out of the country. 

A report by Forest Trends6 shows that since 1997, China and Hong Kong have received an average of 80% of Mozambique’s annual timber exports. Due to the export ban on unprocessed class 1 species, nearly 100% of exports are classed as process, but most of this processing is minimal. Total imports by China from Mozambique over the 2007 - 2014 period amounted to approximately 1 billion USD, dominated primarily by log imports. EIA’s 2014 First Class Crisis report7 stated that between 2007 and 2013, Chinese imports of Mozambican timber amounted to 2,273,807 m3 – accounting for an average of 96% of globally registered imports of Mozambique wood. In some years, China recorded 99% of total globally recorded timber imports from Mozambique.

According to the forest sector official records, Mozambique has about 200 sawmills, 47% of which have subsidiary or annexed carpentries.8 Over the 2007 - 2013 period Mozambique produced almost 5 million cubic meters of timber, 47% of which was exported, 52% of which was consumed domestically.9 The Environmental Investigation Agency compared export and import data from Mozambique and China respectively and found a $85 million USD difference, implying this difference was the value of timber removed illegally.10

The production of timber is dominated by 1st and precious class species, and given the high rate of illegality in the timber sector in Mozambique, according to EIA it is estimated that at the current rate of production commercial species will be exhausted by 2029.11

As of September 2016, there were 2 FSC licenses12 and no PEFC licenses13 issued for forest production areas in Mozambique.  

Commercially Important species

Over half the volume of commercial species harvested belongs to three species: Chanfuta (Afzelia quanzensis), Umbila (Pterocarpus angolensis) and Panga-panga (Millettia stuhlmannii). Other important commercial species include Metonha (Sterculia quinqueloba), Metil (Sterculia appendiculata), Massassa (Brachystegia spiciformis and Julbernadia globiflora), Missanda (Erythrophloeum suaveolens, and Messinge (Terminalia sp.).14


FAO (2015), http://faostat3.fao.org/browse/F/*/E

ITTO Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation, 2014.  Taken from https://knoema.com/ITTOARWTS2014/annual-review-and-assessment-of-the-world-timber-situation-2014

3 EIA (2014), https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/First-Class-Crisis-English-FINAL.pdf

4 European Commission (2014), https://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/system/files/file/31/10/2014_-_1655/final_flegt_study_-_mozambique_feb_2014.pdf

EIA (2014), https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/First-Class-Crisis-English-FINAL.pdf

6 Forest Trends (2014), http://www.forest-trends.org/documents/files/doc_4569.pdf

EIA (2014), https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/First-Class-Crisis-English-FINAL.pdf

FLEGT support program (2013), http://www.illegal-logging.info/sites/default/files/FAEF_Mozambique_Report.pdf

EIA (2014), https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/First-Class-Crisis-English-FINAL.pdf

10 EIA (2013), http://www.eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-First-Class-Connections.pdf

11 https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/First-Class-Crisis-English-FINAL.pdf

12 FSC (2016) https://ic.fsc.org/preview.facts-figures-september-2016.a-6205.pdf

13 PEFC (2016),  http://www.pefc.org/about-pefc/who-we-are/facts-a-figures

14 FLEGT support program (2013), http://www.illegal-logging.info/sites/default/files/FAEF_Mozambique_Report.pdf

Forest Products

About Forest Products

This section provides an overview of the country's forest production and product trade.


Industry Associations

Association of Commerce and Industry (Associação de Comércio e Indústria or ACIS): ACIS is a national group but not forest specific. Their work involves supporting business in Mozambique more generally such as working on combating corruption.

The Muchangalane Carpentry Association*: A community/smaller group. They have 69 members, and are timber industry specific: 4 in carpentry, 12 in sawmilling, 15 in charcoal production and 27 in horticulture. The carpenters have produced furniture for a range of customers including schools and house builders. 

*Page 34

Civil Society Organizations

Centro Terra Viva (CTV) is a national NGO that has worked on the forest sector in Mozambique. The group aims to improve technical and scientific knowledge to inform environmental decisions, and encourage public participation in environmental management policy and legislation.

We Effect in Mozambique (formerly Swedish Cooperative Centre) was funded in 1958. They are a development cooperation organisation applying a long-term, rights based approach in order to effect change.

Acção Académica para o Desenvolvimento das Comunidades Rurais (ADECRU) - Academic Action for the development of rural communities is a civil society organization founded in October 2007 which aims to promote the focus of public awareness and local development agenda, promoting greater involvement and interaction between the various national and international actors for the development of rural communities. The website is in Portuguese.

Some international NGOs work in Mozambique on forest issues.

Justicia Ambiental has published some important reports on the forest sector in Mozambique. Officially registered in 2004, the group is a sub group of Friends of the Earth, and began as a response to a concern that Mozambique was developing in a ‘destructive’ foreign-investment driven way, the impact of which was unregulated. The group runs demonstrations and workshops, as well as supporting the press to publish stories which may not be reported on due to fear of repercussion from those committing illegal activities.

WWF has been working in Mozambique since 2001, and focuses on 35 areas in the region including Miomba Eco region and the more general Coastal East Africa. Another useful aspect of WWF’s work is the Global Forest Trade Network (GFTN), a partnership of 300 companies, communities and NGOs working globally to improve the market for environmentally responsible forest products.

IIED or the International Institute for Environment and Development is a policy and action research organisation. IIED has been promoting better civil society participation in the forest sector in Mozambique through its publications which allow social and environmental concerns to be raised at a higher level.

EIA is an international campaigning organization founded in 1989, with offices in Washington, D.C. and London, UK. EIA have produced 2 reports on illegal logging in Mozambique, First Class Crisis: China’s Criminal and Unsustainable Intervention in Mozambique’s Miombo Forests (2014) and First Class Connections: Log Smuggling, Illegal Logging, and Corruption in Mozambique (2013)

About Contacts

This section provides a list of local contacts who can serve as sources of further information, including industry associations, civil society organizations and government ministries.

Tools & Resources

Tools and Resources

About Tools & Resources

This section directs you to useful and relevant tools and resources, developed by WRI, our partners or other organizations, that provide more information about the country.

Laws & Regulations

Forestry Laws

Mozambique has a number of laws and regulations pertaining to forest management, wood harvesting, processing and trade. The laws are in Portuguese1 English translations have not been found.

Two sets of laws govern and protect forest resource stakeholders: The Land Law of 1997 and the Forestry and Wildlife Law of 1999 (Lei de Florestas e Fauna Bravia), with regulations approved in 1998 and 2002 respectively.

Law No. 19/97, Land Law of 1997 recognizes community’s rights to land and makes community consultation compulsory when assigning rights of use to a second party. It has a limited recognition of customary rights as a means to defend women’s rights. Although communities can utilize any forest product for their own consumption, they are not allowed to commercialize these products without a license.

Law No. 16/2014 establishes the basic principles and rules on the protection, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity within conservation areas.  It has amended part of the 1999 Forest and Wildlife Law, reclassifying conservation areas and incentives for mechanisms to enhance their self-sustainability – calling on private sector participation and encouraged community involvement in their management. It consists of ten Chapters divided into 69 articles, and establishes the integrated management for sustainable development of the country. It regulates the management of conservation areas, protection zones, recovery and restoration of biological diversity, management of endangered species, resettlement and rates, and setting respective inspection and sanction regimes. The Law is divided in the following Chapters: General principles (I); Management of Conservation Areas (II); Protection Areas (III); Recuperation and restoration of biological diversity (IV); Endangered Flora and Fauna species (V); Resettlement (VI); Taxes (VII); Inspection (VIII); Offences and penalties (IX); Final provisions (X).

The 1999 Forest and Wildlife Law, its affiliated 2002 Regulation (Regulamento da Lei de Florestas e Fauna Bravia) and Decreto n.º 30/2012 (which establishes forest exploitation requirements under an ordinary license) regulate the forest and timber sectors.  The Forest and Wildlife Law places forests and wildlife under State ownership, allocated through long-term concessions and short term simple licenses. It promotes the establishment of forest industries, and increasing exports of manufactured products. It does not define geographically any “permanent production forests”, so license applications are handled on a case by case basis at different Government levels depending on size.

The 1999 Forest and Wildlife Law delineates the rights and benefits of forest dependent local communities, covering subsistence level use of the resources, participation in the co-management of forest resources, community consultation and approval prior to allocation of exploitation rights to third parties. It also outlines development benefits derived from timber production under a concession regime. It establishes two types of license for legal timber production: forest concessions and simple licenses. Concessions are granted to national or non-national operators for areas larger than 20,000 ha with an approved management plan, and can be allocated for up to 50 years, though concessionaires are also required to have an annual harvesting license2 which specifies the volume and species they may cut. Simple licenses offer harvesting quotas of 500 cubic metres or less across 10,000 ha, annually over five years and exclusively to national operators. While these simple licenses do require a simplified management plan, no area mapping takes place; in essence it is a harvesting license.3

The 2002 Regulation (Regulamento da Lei de Florestas e Fauna Bravia) also categorize Mozambique’s 118 commercial timber species into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and “precious” classes, reflecting quality, uses, demand intensity, and establishing relevant taxes.  Article 12 indicates that the 22 “1st class” species are banned from export in log form, and require processing within Mozambique before they can leave the country. All concession holders are obliged by law to have the capacity to process their raw timber, thus contributing value added to the timber industry in-country.

As per the rules of the 2002 Forest and Wildlife Regulation, all timber operators, whether concessionaires or simple license operators, must consult with local communities and receive permission from these in order to exploit forest resources, as well as give precedence to local community members when employing relevant staff. The 2002 Regulation also creates local councils for the management of natural resources, composed of all relevant parties to the timber trade, including local communities, all of whom are tasked with overseeing all timber operations in concessions and simple license areas. The Local Councils may also suggest improvements to legislation and to forest management.

Decree No. 12/81 establishes the table of logging quota for precious tree species for 2016, specifying quotas by province and quantity to be allowed by the license holder under the powers conferred by paragraph 3 of Article 2 of the Decree. Corruption and lack of capacity are among the major problems preventing the effective implementation of laws and important contributors to weak forest governance in Mozambique. Numerous reports have documented the close links between the ruling political party's elite (FRELIMO) and the timber trade.4

Environmental Protection

Law No. 20/97 (Lei no 20/97) The Environmental Act

Decree No. 45/2004 (Decreto no 45/2004) Regulation of the Environmental Impact Assessment.  This Decree approves the Regulation on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The Regulation provides a classification of the activities subject to EIA and the related specific requirements, as well as the exemptions and the competent authorities.

Land Laws

Law No. 19/97 (Lei n. 19/2007) The Land Act / Land Use Management

Decree No. 66/98 (Decreto n. 66/98) Land Law Regulations - This Decree regulates Land Act No. 19/97 establishing right of use and conditions for exploiting public lands. It consists of 7 Chapters and 1 technical annex specifying different land uses, listing obligations and rights of foreign or national entities, fees to be paid in order to obtain a license for land exploitation, etc. It sets out requirements to be met for obtaining the aforementioned license and regulates plans for land exploitation to be sent for approval to the competent authority. The Technical Annex specifies requirements to be satisfied and limits (servitudes) of land areas.  There are amendments to the Decree that can be found from the hyperlink above.

Decree No. 23/2008 (Decreto n. 23/2008) approving the Regulation on Land Use Management

Processing/Manufacturing Laws

Article 12 of the 2002 Forest and Wildlife Regulation requires that all designated 1st class species are processed prior to being exported. Article 26 of the same regulation requires all concessionaires to demonstrate that they have the capacity to process their extracted timber. If concessionaires do not demonstrate this ability, they cannot operate as per the terms of the law.

Trade Laws

Decree No. 12/81 establishes the table of logging quota for precious tree species for 2016, specifying quotas by province and quantity to be allowed by the license holder under the powers conferred by paragraph 3 of Article 2 of the Decree

Decree 49/2004 regulates commercial activity and states in order to export, all exporters must be licensed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.5 Any exporter must require numerous documents prior to exporting:6

  1. Receipt of the exported goods;
  2. Bill of Lading;
  3. Certificate of Origin (from the Chamber of Commerce);
  4. Phytosanitary Certificate (from the National Directorate of Wildlife and Forests);
  5. Certificate of Quality;
  6. Manifest. The National Directorate of Wildlife and Forests must also provide exporters with an export permit, and must inspect the loading of timber into containers tasked with exporting.

Order of the Ministry for Agriculture of 24 March 2004 on timber export.  This Order, composed of one article, allows the maximum amount allowed for timber export of the species “Afzelia quanzensis”, “Millettia Sthlumanii” and “Pterocarpus angolensis”. Export is allowed only to operators with forestry license and forestry concessions.

Ministerial Order No. 52-A/2004 on the classification of certain timber species.  This Ministerial Order, composed of one article, includes the timber species “Afzelia quanzensis”, “Millettia Sthlumanii” and “Pterocarpus angolensis” in the list of the precious timber species provided in Decree No. 12/2002.

Transport Laws

Article 10 of the 2002 Forest and Wildlife Regulation requires that any forest products being transported have a transit guide accompanying it. The Provincial Services of Forests and Wildlife are tasked with providing transit guides, but the Governor of the Province may exempt some forest products from needing guides.

Between January 1st and March 31st, the exploitation and transport of forest products is banned, and all applicants for concessions and simple licenses must demonstrate the capacity to transport their products as a requirement for successfully applying for a concession or simple license. The transit guides should state the timber species, the volume transported, number, itinerary, destination, name of the truck operator and shipment date. A copy of this document should be in possession of the truck operator throughout the entire journey. At checkpoints the officials then check the transit guide against the permitted harvests for that simple license/concession holder, and tick off the transported amount from the amount permitted to be harvested in that area. The transport of timber is therefore a major component in verifying the amount of timber actually cut in any given area. 

Tax Laws

Concessions do not pay any annual land tax (although discussions about whether this should occur have been ongoing for some time).7 However, under the 2002 Regulation of Wildlife and Forests, both concession and simple licenses holders are required to pay tax on the exploration of the different classes of timber species, 20% of which is to be handed over to local communities. There is also a Timber VAT Law number 7/2010 requiring timber exporters to pay 20% on the f.o.b. price on log exports and 15% on sawn timber.8 Timber companies must also pay a 32% profit tax on enterprises and an annual concession tax determined by the Ministry of Agriculture. The 2002 regulation was amended by the Ministerial Order No. 293 in 2012, updating the taxation amounts for each timber class and stating the tax per m3.

Several types of illegalities reported in the Mozambique forest sector are undermining the tax collection. The NGO Environmental Investigation Agency estimated that between 2007 and 2013 Mozambique potentially lost US$102 million in exploration taxes alone, entirely due to timber smuggling to China, while a further US$44 million were lost in export taxes over the same period. As a result, local communities lost over US$20 million in taxes due to this illegal smuggling.9

Documents / Legal Texts
Ministerial Order No. 52-A 2004 on the classification of certain timber species.pdf Order of the Ministry for Agriculture of 24 March 2004 on timber export.pdf Decree No. 30 2012 establishing forestry exploitation requirements for simple license operators.pdf Ministerial Decree No. 142 2007 on primary transformation of timber.pdf Ministerial Decree No. 293 2012 Value of taxes for the exploration of forest resources.pdf Ministerial Decree No. 8 2007 on the classification of forest wood product species used for producing timber.pdf Ministerial Decree No. 52-C 2003 on the classification of forest wood product species used for producing timber.pdf Regulation of the Forest and Wildlife Law.pdf The Law of Forestry and Wildlife.pdf
CITES Agreement Information

CITES Overview

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement among governments whose purpose is to ensure that international trade in wild animal and plant species does not threaten the survival of these species. A total of 181 countries have agreed to the CITES regulations, which is a legally binding agreement. It is up to each Party to CITES to draft its own domestic legislation in order to comply with its CITES obligations

Mozambique acceded to and ratified the Convention in 1981.10 While Mozambique has 110 CITES species, none are used for commercial timber, instead they are threatened for other reasons such as their use in horticulture or as a food source.  Prunus Africana is listed under Appendix II, but is mainly used for medicinal purposes.  Diospyros vera is also on the CITES list (Appendix II).

A contact list of Mozambique CITES officials, including Management and Scientific Authorities, can be found here.


FAOLEX laws and regulations: http://faolex.fao.org/faolex/  

Cifor (2013) http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/articles/AWertz-Kanounnikoff1301.pdf

3 Cifor (2013) http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/articles/AWertz-Kanounnikoff1301.pdf

4 EIA (2013), https://eia-international.org/mozambique-loses-a-fortune-to-illegal-timber-exports

TIPMOZ, (2004), http://www.tipmoz.com/library/resources/tipmoz_media/cat3_link_1115657862.pdf

6 European Commission (2014) http://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/public-flegt/document/mozambique-study

European Commission Study (2014) http://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/public-flegt/document/mozambique-study   

Taken from EIA (2013) http://www.eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-First-Class-Connections.pdf

EIA (2014) https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/First-Class-Crisis-English-FINAL.pdf

10 CITES (2016), https://cites.org/eng/cms/index.php/component/cp/country/MZ

Laws & Regulations

This section provides a list of local contacts who can serve as sources of further information, including industry associations, civil society organizations and government ministries.