While the coronavirus pandemic rages on, ravaging Zambia’s economy and crippling its citizens' lives, new findings by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) show that illegal exploitation and trade in mukula (Pterocarpus tinctorius) persists unabated, benefitting a small number of well-connected and wealthy individuals. A probing undercover investigation into illegal mukula logging and trade sheds light on the apparent theft of more than 10,000 trees and unveils information connecting the Zambia Agency For Persons With Disabilities (ZAPD), the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, and the office of the vice president. Nearly two years after EIA’s exposé on the institutional looting of Zambian forests, it appears that the more things have changed with the pandemic, when it comes to mukula, the more they’ve stayed the same.
During its meeting this week, the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) Board of Directors will determine whether to end its disassociation with one of the largest timber processors in Europe, the Austrian HS Timber Group (formerly known as Holzindustrie Schweighofer). At stake is not only HS Timber's hoped-for shot at restoring its name after a series of scandals, but also the reputation and the future of the FSC itself.