The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has legalized 15 logging concessions that were previously listed as illegal under an effort to clean up the industry of widespread corruption. The environmental group, Greenpeace, fears that the move precedes an announcement to lift the DRC’s moratorium on granting any new logging concessions, which would open the Congo Basin to widespread logging.
In 2009, the DRC cancelled over 90 logging concessions after a six month analysis with the World Bank found that the concessions were granted either under questionable circumstances or during a moratorium, however a number of these concessions have since been re-legalized.
“Not only is the legalization of these 15 forest titles unacceptable, it massively damages the credibility of the DRC Government, the World Bank and other international donors involved in developing a national REDD strategy (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries),” said Irène Wabiwa, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.
Currently logging operations cover 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) of the DRC. If the moratorium is lifted 15 million additional hectares, or 25 million hectares (nearly 62 million acres) in total, of the Congo could become open to logging.
“Lifting the moratorium would be scandalous in these circumstances. Logging is not a solution for protecting the Congolese forests; it is pouring fuel on a lit fire. Any decision on Congolese forests allocation should definitely not be taken without a real land use planning involving forest-dependant communities,” stated René Ngongo, a political adviser for Greenpeace Africa.
DRC is home to the bulk of the Congo Basin forest, the world’s second largest rainforest after the Amazon. Researchers estimate the Basin loses more than 800,000 ha per year to industrial logging and agricultural expansion. Much of the region’s timber is exported illegally according to environmentalists.
(01/21/2009) Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) canceled nearly 60 percent of the country’s timber contracts following a review of 156 logging concessions granted in recent years, reports Reuters. The anti-corruption probe found that 91 deals covering nearly 13 million of hectares of forest were granted under questionable circumstances or during a moratorium on logging contracts following the 1998-2003 civil war.
(10/08/2008) Democratic Republic of Congo will cancel more than two-thirds of its logging contracts due to under a World Bank-back initiative to reduce corruption in the forestry sector, according to the Central African country’s environment minister.
(07/31/2008) A major European logging company is using an elaborate profit-laundering system to smuggle timber revenue out of Africa and avoid paying taxes to the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo, alleges a new report published by Greenpeace.