The use, management and exploitation of natural resources in Mozambique are reg.ulated by a complex web of institutions, policies, strategies, laws, and regulations. 
At the institutional level, the bodies responsible for the regulatory framework for nat.ural resources vary depending on the issue at hand. At the highest level, it is the responsibility of the Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República), Mozambique’s Parliament, to pass general laws on issues concerning natural resources, and of the Council of Ministers (Conselho de Ministros), the executive power, to enact decrees reg.ulating how these laws will be implemented.
To make them operational at the central and local level,2 the responsibility lies with the Ministry of Agriculture (Ministério da Agricultura, MINAG), Ministry of Mineral Resources (Ministério dos Recursos Minerais, MIREM), and Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs (Ministério para a Coordenação da Acção Ambiental, MICOA). Other Ministries, such as the Ministry of Public Works (Ministério das Obras Públicas, MOP) and the Ministry of Tourism (Min.istério do Turismo, MITUR) are often also involved in setting up the regulatory for natural resources.
At the Ministry of Agriculture, the main ministry involved in the forestry sector, the National Directorate of Geography and Cadastre (Direcção Nacional de Geografia e Cadastro, DINAGECA) and the National Directorate of Land and Forestry (Direcção Nacional de Terras e Florestas, DNTF) are the directorates mainly involved in the regulatory process. Both are represented at provincial level by service units – the Provincial Geography and Register Services (Serviço Provincial de Geografia e Cadastro, SPGC) and the Provincial Services for Forestry and Wildlife (Serviço Provincial de Florestas e Fauna Bravia, SPFFB). At provincial level, the services are accountable to their line ministry and the provincial governor.
Since independence, the government has produced several development policies, strategies and planning instruments. Strategic planning, even if often more an exercise in theory than in practice, is at the centre of Frelimo’s style of governance. There are general, sector-wide and issue-specific policies and strategies. For the long-term, Mozambique’s main national policy, or vision, is Agenda 2025, which provides a com.prehensive analysis of the country’s situation and its challenges up to 2025.
It is com.plemented by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to which the government has pledged its commitment, and the National Action Plan of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which the country concluded in late 2009 and is being imple.mented. In the medium-term, there is the government’s Five-Year Programme (2010.2014), and there was (until 2010) Mozambique’s Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty 2006-2009 (PARPA II), the country’s second poverty reduction strat.egy paper. PARPA II has expired and has been replaced by the Action Plan for the Reduction of Poverty 2010-2014 (PARP). Most sector-wide and issue-specific policies and strategies are designed to be implemented within a 3 to 5 year time-frame. In the short-term, there is the Economic and Social Plan (PES), approved every year by the government to spell out that year’s main objectives and activities, based on the medium- and long-term strategies and priorities. Budgeting, mobilisation, and alloca.tion of resources to implement the strategic plans are undertaken through the Mid-Term Fiscal Scenario (CFMP) and the State Budget (OE). All ministries have annual plans that detail their day-to-day activities. 
Agenda 2025 was drawn up by academics, representatives of political parties, and civil society organisations during broad popular consultation at the beginning of the 2000s. Launched in 2003, after unanimous approval by the Assembly of the Republic, the document discusses several potential scenarios for Mozambique, identifying chal.lenges, threats and opportunities that might emerge in the next years, but it does not have any clear strategy either for the extractive industries or for the forestry sector. 
PARPA II sets out objectives that should contribute to reducing absolute poverty and promoting rapid, sustainable and strong economic growth. Economic development should, according to its priorities, guarantee the sustainable use of natural resources and the implementation of transparent mechanisms in their management and use. It also recognised that most Mozambicans depend on the use of natural resources for the maintenance of their livelihoods and for income generation, and that, given this, the plan could only achieve its objectives if natural resources were well-managed and preserved, with a focus on the relations between their use and the benefits that accrue to the poor.4 On forestry, minerals and the extractive industries in general, the docu.ment is almost silent, mentioning briefly the importance of protecting the forests, of raising citizens’ awareness of legal norms protecting the forestry and wildlife, of con.tinuing the prospecting of minerals, and of promoting geological mapping. 
The current Government Five-Year Plan (GFYP) (2010-2014) was approved at the beginning of 2010, when Mozambique’s new government was sworn in. Extractive industries are discussed in a fragmented fashion (forestry, fisheries and mineral re.sources in separate headings). On forestry resources, the GFYP is very brief, saying that the government intends to redesign and implement a policy for the sustainable use of natural resources and to establish commercial business farms. On mineral re.sources, there is more information, and the government commits itself to continue to promote and ensure their sustainable use. Also, it states its commitment to the im.plementation of EITI. 
Several policies and strategies discuss how the government should approach the management and regulation of the forests. The National Environment Policy was ap.proved in 1995, in the context of the GFYP for 1995-1999. There, the government clearly recognised the interdependence between development and the environment. Among the policy’s general objectives were: 1. Ensure that natural resource man.agement is geared towards the continuing economic relevance of natural resources for future generations, and; 2. Ensure the integration of environmental considera.tions into socio-economic planning. The policy lists areas that demand special at.tention, as well as strategies, priorities and specific activities. It does discuss important areas (such as fisheries), but is silent on some areas that have become crucial to the country’s development (such as mineral resources), and hardly dis.cusses others (such as forests). 
In 1997, the Council of Ministers approved the Policy and Strategy for the Develop.ment of Forests and Wildlife. It was enacted in the spirit of ECO-92, the UN Con.ference on Development and Environment held in Brazil in 1992, and should have guided the government’s activities in the area for five years. Amongst the priorities (which reflected government’s national priorities) were: 1. Improve the use of forests geared towards their industrial transformation; and 2. Reduce the exports of raw wood and increase the exports of processed wood. 
The National Environment Policy and the Policy and Strategy for the Development of Forests and Wildlife were enacted within the context of Mozambique’s first dem.ocratically-elected government (1995-1999). From 1997 until 2007, no other specific policy or strategy for natural resources was approved, even if new laws and regulations were enacted. Finally, in 2007, the Council of Ministers approved the Environment Strategy for the Sustainable Development of Mozambique, which should be imple.mented in 5 years. It is longer and more detailed than previous instruments, but is more vague and fragmented. It provides an assessment of the current situation of the environment in the country, but offers only a list of objectives and activities that should be pursued by the government without providing a proper strategy, integrated with other national strategies. It does not include any discussion on the use of mineral resources and forests. 
Mozambique has signed on to the EITI since May 2009. Since then the country has produced two reconciliation reports. It is still struggling to become an implementing country. 
As for short-term policies, the Economic and Social Plan (PES) provides the context for yearly government activities in various areas, including natural resources. The PES for 2010 is one of the few government strategic documents that does have a specific heading for extractive industries, but it restricts the sector to minerals (excluding forests and other extractive areas). On forests and wildlife, government actions are limited to a few activities, such as finalising the analysis of twenty applications for logging con.cessions. 
Mozambique’s constitution sets the general framework for the country’s laws, regulations, policies and strategies. The current constitution, which was approved in 2004 (replacing the 1990c Constitution) includes the right to the environment among peo.ple’s fundamental rights, stressing that (art. 90): 1. ‘Every citizen has the right to live in a balanced environment and the duty to defend it, and 2. The state and local au.thorities, with the assistance of civil society organisations working on environment issues, adopt policies to defend the environment and foster the rational use of natural resources.’ Specifically, the constitution advances that the state, to guarantee an envi.ronmental balance and the preservation and conservation of the environment, should implement policies that seek to (art. 117): ‘a) prevent and control pollution and erosion; b) integrate environment goals into sector-wide policies; c) promote the integration of environment values into policies and educational policies; d) guarantee the rational use of natural resources, safeguarding their capacity to renewal, ecological stability and the rights of future generations; e) promote the right organisation of the territory in order to obtain the correct placement of activities and a balanced socio-economic development’. 
Prior to the enactment of the current constitution, environmental laws were in place, which are still valid insofar as they do not contradict the constitution. In October 1997, Law no. 20/97, the Law on the Environment, was enacted, whose main objective was to establish the legal basis for the right use and management of the environment, guaranteeing the consolidation of a sustainable development process. Law no. 20/97 provides the principles and guidelines for the state and private actors for every action that involves the environment. It says that environmental management should aim at improving citizens’ life, that it should be cautious and avoid negative irreversible en.vironmental damage, and that citizens should participate actively in environmental af.fairs. After Law no. 20/97 was enacted, its main topics were regulated by scattered legislation. 
Law no. 10/99, of 7 July, the Law on Forests and Wildlife, established the principles and basic rules on the protection, conservation and sustainable use of forests and wildlife resources. Among the principles laid out by the law, it stresses the importance of a complex balance that combines social and economic development and the preser.vation and conservation of biodiversity with the involvement of local communities, the private sector and civil society, in a joint effort to reach the path towards sustainable development (art. 3). It also refers to the importance of the state in promoting the establishment of industries to process forestry and wildlife products, and increase the export of manufactured goods. Importantly, it establishes the different regimes through which forests can be exploited. Accordingly, there are two different regimes of forest exploitation: a) based on simple logging licences; and b) based on forest con.cession contracts. In the simple licensing regime, there are limits to the quantities and the period of licensing, and only Mozambicans and local communities can be given this license, whereas in the use based on concession contracts, individuals and private companies can use the forest with no specific limits to the size of the concession. Put differently, although Mozambique instituted a system of “simple license” forest con.cessions that restrict Mozambican loggers to a limited amount of timber, this system is being abused.”
Law no. 10/99 was regulated by Decree no. 12/2002, which spells out how forest and wildlife management and exploitation will be carried out in practice. The decree es.tablishes that simple logging licences are given for one year, and that the application should be analysed by the provincial governor and issued by the Provincial Service of Forests and Wildlife. Applications for concessions are subjected to a much more detailed and thorough process, since they involve larger areas and can be granted to foreigners. The areas that can be made available to concession holders vary from 20 000 (granted by the provincial governor) to 100 000 hectares (granted by the Ministry of Agriculture) or more (granted by the Council of Ministers). Concession grantees are obliged to manage their natural resources in a sustainable fashion, and to establish an industrial unit to process their wood. 
At the international level, there are few binding legal instruments with regards to the environment, but there are conventions and declarations that provide guidelines to national policies. Mozambique often takes part in international summits to discuss these issues, and has showed its commitment to translate international agreements into national law. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit produced Agenda 21, the Rio Decla.ration on Environment and Development. Some years later, Mozambique’s govern.ment, in the preamble to the Policy and Strategy on the Development of Forests and Wildlife, said it included the objectives and priorities established in chapter 11 of Agenda 21 (Combating deforestation) and also other recommendations from the doc.ument. Regionally, Mozambique acceded to some binding instruments, such as the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1981, and the SADC Protocol on the Mining Sector in 1998. In 2002, the government also ratified the SADC Protocol on the Conservation of Wildlife, and the Application of the Law in SADC. 
As a result of changes in the laws governing the timber industry, by 2008 32 concessions had been approved covering 1,2 million hectares, and another 16 concessions (covering 611 545 hectares were in the approval process. Mozambicans are the largest group of concession owners: nine operators controlled 11 concessions; seven were in joint ventures with Asians; and eight Asians had exclusive control. In particular, Singaporean-Chinese Cheng Kee Meng has interests in 10 concessions covering 258 000 hectares. Of those awaiting approval, two were community concessions; one a Mozambican national; three local Zambezian industrial operations; two long-estab.lished simple license operators; one Malawian; two Libyans; and five Chinese.5 While the Chinese market has been the destiny for Mozambican timber, the players involved in the industry are far from exclusively Chinese.