Congo rainforest – 600,000 sq km slated for logging
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
December 5, 2005
Environmentalists ask World Bank to review policies in the Central African country
The World Bank will meet Thursday to decide whether it will fund large-scale logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s rainforests. The country, home to the second largest rainforest in the world after Brazil, is emerging from years of civil strife which resulted in the deaths of some 3.8 million people from violence and disease. The government is looking for ways to build its economy and sees its “underdeveloped” forestry sector as an important potential source for revenue.
According to UN figures, forest covers about 59% of the Democratic Republic of Congo — most of which is found in the Congo Basin. The country’s economy is highly dependent on natural resource extraction — especially timber harvesting and mining.
While the government has lately made overtures toward conserving its forests by backing a ban on new logging and joining a coalition of tropical nations seeking money from industrial countries for rainforest protection, law enforcement is weak and corruption is widespread. Historically, forestry operations have been managed loosely with little consideration for sustainability or the rights of local forest dwellers, and many forest activities are conducted illegally. Roads built for forest access open up interior areas for bushmeat hunting and subsistence agriculture.
Environmentalists are concerned that further funding for forestry in the Democratic Republic of Congo will result in degradation and deforestation of the country’s biologically diverse rainforests. Currently, almost none of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s forests are protected, and the area potentially available for logging concessions is vast.
According to Dr. Glen Barry, founder of Forests.org, a leading conservation portal, the World Bank is considering a plan to zone 600,000 square kilometers of forest — almost half the country’s forests — for logging. The bank has already approved more than 80 loans worth approximately $3.37 billion, some of which has gone towards forestry development in the country’s rainforests. Thursday, December 8th, the Board of the World Bank will decide whether to approve another $200 million in new funding for the government of the DRC.
Dr. Barry is calling for the World Bank to review its funding plan for the Democratic Republic of Congo. He says that the bank has violated its own internal environmental policies in the process of funding forestry projects in the country and is facing an formal complaint on behalf of “pygmies,” traditional Congo forest dwellers. Since December 8th is only days away, Dr. Barry is sponsoring an urgent letter writing campaign asking World Bank leaders to reevaluate its activities in the country.
11/27/2005 | Mongabay.com
At this week’s United Nations summit on climate change in Montreal a coalition of tropical developing countries plans to propose that wealthy countries pay them to preserve their rainforests. The group of 10 countries, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, will argue that they should be compensated for the services rainforests — like global warming mitigation and wateshed services — provide the rest of the world.