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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Timber: Zambia’s Gold Mine

Zambia’s forest resources are large. Of the 46.3 million hectares 32 million hectares are woodlands. A small population of eleven million people in a country larger than Texas the wood resources are considered immense and therefore a “gold mine.” There is African hard wood such as teak, rosewood, “mukwa.”

The Timber Producers Association of Zambia (TPAZ) general secretary Charles Masange says inadequate capital and lack of kilning equipment has made it difficult for the timber (lumber) industry to export quality and large quantity of timber to the major importer, South Africa and to the European market.

The association has failed to meet annual requirement of 4,560 cubic metres per month to South Africa and 3,360 cubic metres to the European market.

In South African the cost of unkilned timber is between US $600-650 while US $1,200-1,500 kilned for a cubic metre while the European market which insist on kilned timber fetch between US $1,500 and US $2,500.

However, there has been a slight improvement in the timber (lumber) industry. The assistance from the European Union - Export Development Programme of Euro 123,000 and the local K4 billion Forestry Development Credit facility allocated in last year’s budget have contributed to that.

Zambia continues to host plentiful pristine forestry reserves. With conservation strategy already in place the wood industry will be protected for forever.


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