THE timber industry is slowly growing in Africa. It is an open secret that trees play an important role in economic growth and can provide the much-needed foreign exchange if well managed and harvested.

For a country like Zambia, which is diversifying from copper, timber has the potential to become a major export commodity that could rake in a lot of foreign exchange.

More than just providing a form of investment, the timber industry has the potential to contribute to employment creation and help reduce poverty in the country, especially in rural areas.

Zambia should take advantage of its vast forest cover by turning it into a source of wealth and jobs.

Out of 752,614 square kilometres (km) of Zambia, 451,568 square kilometres is covered by forest, representing about 60 percent of the entire land.

Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) and Action Aid believe this natural resource deserves more attention than it has been receiving in the past.

They are jointly conducting a study on the potential of the sector to spur human and economic development.

The meeting was attended by Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), saw millers, Zambia Environmental Management Agency, Zambia Association for Timber and Forestry Based Industries (ZATFBI), Timber Association of Zambia and several others.

The objective of the meeting was to establish a platform for the different stakeholders in the sector to dialogue on how best Zambia can tap from the potential timber offers.

ZATFBI president Gilbert Mudenda believes that the timber industry has the potential to contribute to economic growth and create the much-needed employment in the country.

“Timber is Zambia’s golden egg,” Dr Mudenda said.

A civil society organisation leader notes that Zambia’s timber sector has the potential to contribute over US$10 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) annually if well managed.

Source: 2021