Timber producers in Zambia mull auction floor

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Timber producers in Zambia plan to establish an auction floor for the industry in order to control the market and allow the country benefit from its forestry, a top industry official said Friday.

Timber Producers Association of Zambia (TPAZ) Vice-President Charles Masange said in an interview that currently the marketing of timber in Zambia is being done in a haphazard manner resulting in the country losing the much needed revenue.

According to him, foreign timber firms were exploiting the country's timber which they buy cheaply by paying 25 U.S. dollars for a logging license and re-selling it at about 3,000 dollars at the international market.

"Zambia is not getting any benefits from the timber industry and we are planning to set up an auction floor to regulate the marketing of timber. We have already sold the idea to the government and the government has already accepted the idea," he said.

"Instead of us getting genuine investment in the timber industry, we are having investors that are just coming to exploit our forests and we are trying to put an end to this," he added.

The auction floor will act as a central marketing place for the country's timber where all buyers will be coming to buy the timber at international prices, he added.

Recently, the government suspended the issuance of timber licenses in order to protect the country's depleting forests. According to government figures, Zambia's deforestation levels currently stand at 250,000 to 300,000 hectares annually. The government recently launched a national tree planting program in which over 25 million trees equivalent to 20,000 hectares will be planted during the 2012/2013 planting season.