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DRC breaches logging moratorium for Chinese-owned companies

Twenty year old lumberjack Miwa (米瓦) rests on a log of bloodwood. In Zambia, a neighbouring country of DRC, bloodwood has been illegally logged and exported to China in the past, but the unbridled harvesting of bloodwood has now been prohibited by the Zambian government.

  • 6,500 square kilometers of logging concessions in the DRC’s central Congo have been awarded.
  • The deal – with two Chinese companies – is an apparent violation of a 2002 logging moratorium.
  • The logging concessions are located on a 145,000 square kilometer tropical peatland complex – the largest in the world.

Two Chinese-owned companies have been awarded 6,500 square kilometers of logging concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an apparent violation of a logging moratorium put in place in 2002.

Earlier this month, the two companies, Forestière pour le Développement du Congo (FODECO) and Société la Millénaire Forestière (SOMIFOR), were awarded three logging concessions that had been cancelled in August 2016 by then-Environment Minister Robert Bopolo.

The current Congolese Minister of Environment, Amy Ambatobe, granted the concessions. According to Global Witness, Ambatobe’s decision violates a 2002 moratorium on any new industrial logging concession. Two of the three concessions are located in forests that grow on top of peatlands, which are believed to store a massive 30 billion tons of carbon.

In January 2017, researchers revealed that the 145,000 square kilometer tropical peatland complex located in central Congo Basin is the largest in the world. Disruption to the area from logging and development could release massive amounts of greenhouse gases into earth’s atmosphere, say scientists.

“The issuing of new logging concessions sends a clear signal…that the DRC government is abandoning any pretense at reducing emissions from deforestation,” said Simon Counsell, Executive Director of Rainforest Foundation UK, in an interview with Reuters.

According to Reuters, DRC’s Ministry of Environment is crying foul at the objections to the concessions, saying the area doesn’t violate the moratorium because the concessions have already been exploited.

Banner image: Lu Guang/Greenpeace