Loggers encroaches Raiply Timber concession area

Some itinerant licensed loggers have started encroaching into the 20,000 hectares forestry plantation which Raiply owns under an exclusive 15 year concessionary agreement after almost depleting the estimated other 33,000 hectares held for Malawian loggers for sustainable harvesting.

The Viphya’s 53-501 hectare man-made plantation, the once largest in Southern Africa, which began in the 1950s now, stands at 10% plantation cover, and dwindling.

Loggers in the Plantation belong to the Timber Millers Cooperatives Union which consists of the following registered Saw Millers Cooperatives: Chamatete, Lusangazi, Chibwaka, Zikomo, Viphya, Luwawa and Kalungulu.

Raiply Chief Executive officers Thomas Oommen confirmed the development, saying they have noted illegal harvesting of their Timber at Kalungulu and Zumanda.

“We have reported the matter to Police and Forestry officials,” Oommen said.

He did not say when the illegal logging started, the hectares affected or the expected revenue the company has lost.

Northern Region Police Publicist Inspector Norah Chimwala expressed ignorance on the matter but promised to return to us after inquiries.

But she did not.

Timber Millers Cooperatives Union Chairperson Ben Nyondo said could not be reached for comment.

Raiply is operating what used to be Viphya Plywood and Allied Industries (Viply), under a privatisation deal.

The company secured 20 000 hectares in Chikangawa Forest under concession. However, union members complained that Raiply was being favoured for purchasing timber at a lower price than local businesspeople.

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