Mozambique: The need for community land rights in the face of illegal logging and increasing extractive industries’ activities.

Rural communities and forest resources in Mozambique are under pressure from illegal logging and increased natural resource extraction in the mining and oil sectors. DFE and its partner in the country are working to ensure land rights of rural people and advocate for acknowledgement of the communities rights to resources.

Mozambique is experiencing one of the worlds highest rates of illegal logging. The southern African country is one of the 10 least developed nations and is facing problems in conflicts over natural resources. 

In 2013, a staggering 93 per cent of logging in the country was illegal, according to a report by the UK-based NGO the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The vast majority of exports, 93 per cent on average between 2007 and 2013, were shipped to China where a huge market is consuming large amounts of luxury timber – both legally and illegally sourced.

Rural poor communities are under pressure

As a consequence of the widespread illegal logging, Mozambique’s rural poor and wider population has been stripped of an estimated US$146 million in lost exploration and export tax revenues since 2007, says EIA.

The degree to which poor rural communities will bear the burden of Mozambique’s on-going illegal logging crisis is a critical development and governance challenge.

Even though Mozambican Land Law theoretically supports rural communities and strengthens the security of land tenure for smallholders, many communities still do not have the official documents to the land.

But with support from DFE communities are helped to gain the knowledge about their rights to land and natural resources and how to benefit from the forestry law’s provision on channelling tax revenues to affected communities. 

DFE project activities in Mozambique

DFE has been operating in Mozambique since 2004 with local its local partner NGO, Associacao do Meio Ambiente (ama), working in the northern most province of Cabo Delgado.

With more pressure on land and natural resources, the organisation realized that there was a need to engage more in dialogue with government on crucial matters such as land rights and equitable rights to natural resources.

By empowering local communities by teaching them their rights, actions to take and how to do it, the goal is to give vulnerable groups more control over their lives. 

DFE and AMA are also working to enhance the understanding and respect for the rural citizens rights among public authorities and business enterprises.

By building the local capacity in regards to legal rights, strengthening the dialogue and levelling the playing field among communities, government and private investors, DFE is hoping to contribute to a reduction of conflicts over natural resources and ensure a better future for the rural inhabitants of Mozambique.