Greenpeace today reacted to two recent cases of social conflict between logging companies and local communities that have reportedly resulted in violent police interventions, arrests and reported abuses.
Greenpeace is calling for:
the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government to commit to upholding the existing moratorium on new logging allocations, until a participatory land use plan has been established.
the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to put an immediate halt to the granting of new certificates for industrial-scale logging in the Congo Basin until preconditions for credible FSC certification are established.
Children in Sodefor Log Camp
Children peer through panels of wood in a Sodefor log park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than 15 million hectares of rainforest are currently allocated to the logging industry. The expansion of logging into remaining areas of intact forests in the DRC will destroy globally critical carbon reserves and impact biodiversity. Beyond environmental impacts, logging in the region exacerbates poverty and leads to social conflicts.
© Greenpeace / Kate Davison
Outbreaks of Violence
According to independent reports, in April this year the Bosanga community in Yalisika village, Bumba (Equateur province), protested against Siforco's (DRC-based subsidiary of the Danzer group) operation in the area claiming that the company did not honour its promises to invest in social infrastructure. Siforco then called for police intervention, which resulted in violence: it was reported to Greenpeace that several villagers were badly beaten by police causing one person, Mr Momoma Tika Frédéric, to die. Several women were reportedly raped and the property of many villagers was destroyed.
On May 15th, Greenpeace was reliably informed that people had been beaten and arrested by policemen in the Inongo area (Bandundu province), reportedly as a consequence of a conflict between the community and Sodefor (DRC-based subsidiary of Liechtenstein-registered Group NorSüdTimber). Seven people are still in custody in what are reported to be appalling conditions, and without any clear legal charges being made against them.
Rene Ngongo, Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Forest Campaigner said “One of the main sources of these ever re-occurring conflicts is the absence of participative land use planning in forest areas allocated to logging. It is crucial that the Democratic Republic of Congo government and the international donor community commit themselves to uphold the moratorium on the allocation of new logging operations.”
FSC Certification Issues
Both Sodefor and Siforco claim to be moving towards Sustainable Forest Management, with the support of some key donors countries. For instance, in January Sodefor was issued a Controlled Wood FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate for logging areas where social conflicts occured. On May 13, Greenpeace International launched a formal complaint to the FSC to dissociate itself from Sodefor based on FSC’s policy of association.
Over the past months, Greenpeace has continued to urge the FSC to put an immediate halt to the granting of new certificates for industrial-scale logging in the Congo Basin until preconditions for credible FSC certification are established. [To read more on this, click here]
Recent violence shows us that sustainable forest management doesn’t exist in Democratic Republic of Congo.
To avoid further controversial certificates being issued and to maintain the support of the FSC’s members and stakeholders, FSC should not associate itself with companies such as Sodefor. These companies are not only involved in fragmenting large High Conservation Values Forests, but also in social conflicts linked to the violation of traditional and human rights.