Cut it Out:

How illegal logging in DRC threatens livelihoods, forests and trade

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Feature story - March 4, 2013
Our latest report from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reveals how the country’s logging sector is in a state of “organised chaos”, with the DRC government’s so-called “battle against illegal logging” currently failing the Congolese people and jeopardising trade.

“Logging companies, including multinationals, are routinely flouting Congolese law, with complete impunity,” says Irène Wabiwa, forests campaigner with Greenpeace Africa. “As a result, the government is denied tax revenues. Illegal logging is impacting directly on millions of Congolese citizens who depend on forests for their livelihoods.”

Download ReportCompiled through research and field trips to Bandundu province, Cut It Out reveals the many ways in which logging companies are flouting Congolese law.

Logging companies are getting around a moratorium on new industrial logging permits through the illegal use of artisanal permits, which are officially only to be used for small scale logging. Some companies have continued to log after their permits were cancelled, and others without any permit at all.

Upon visiting Kinkole port near Kinshasa, Greenpeace Africa witnessed log ends being removed and painted with new markings to hide illegal activities and to enable export.

The lack of independent systems to verify legality in DRC logging sector threatens to cut off trading with the European Union (EU), the world’s largest timber market. Yesterday (March 3), the new European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) was brought into force, which prohibits illegally harvested timber and timber products from being traded on the European market. The chaos in the DRC logging sector makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for traders based in the EU and dealing in timber from the DRC to comply with the new legislation under current circumstances.

04 March 2013 Logs in Kinshasa Harbour

Piles of logs in Kinshasa harbor. 11/20/2008 © Greenpeace / Philip Reynaers

It is clear that a transformation of the logging sector in the DRC is needed, to ensure the sustainable development that is key for the country’s future.

To achieve this, Greenpeace Africa is calling on DRC government  to reinforce the existing moratorium and cancel all existing illegal permits, prosecute infractions, publish all logging contracts, strengthen anti-corruption measures, and enable communities to manage their forests for their own benefit. The DRC government needs to put its people first.