Greenpeace exposes that logging in the Congo rainforest is out of control

Press release - 11 April, 2007
A damning new report launched by Greenpeace today exposes that international logging companies operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are causing social chaos and wreaking environmental havoc. 'Carving up the Congo' (1) uncovers endemic corruption and impunity in the DRC's logging sector at a time when key decisions that will determine the future of these forests are about to be made (2).

A log park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 21 million hectares of rainforest are currently allocated to the logging industry, an area nearly seven times the size of Belgium. Most of DRC's timber is exported to Europe, with France and Belgium currently the largest importers.

Published as the World Bank board is set to meet in Washington (3), the report concludes that efforts by the Bank to control the logging industry are failing while the rainforest is being sold off under the illusion that logging alleviates poverty.

The Congo rainforest is the world's second largest tropical forest after the Amazon and one of the planet's essential defences against global climate change. Global emissions from tropical deforestation alone contributes up to 25% of total annual human-induced CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

The DRC rainforest contains 8% of global carbon stores. It is estimated that forest clearance in the DRC will release up to 34.4 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050, roughly equivalent to the UK's CO2 emissions over the last sixty years. (4) 

 "It's crunch time for the DRC's rainforests. The international logging industry operating in the country is out of control. Unless the World Bank helps the DRC to stop the sell off of these rainforests, they'll soon be under the chainsaws," said Greenpeace International Africa Forest Campaign Co-ordinator, Stephan van Praet.

In spite of a national moratorium on logging titles since 2002, 100 logging contracts covering 15 million hectares of rainforest have been issued to the logging industry (5), an area five times the size of Belgium. Much of the rainforest already allocated for logging is critical for conservation and for the survival of our closest animal relatives, the bonobo and chimpanzee.

40 million people depend on the DRC's rainforest. Few benefit from logging. The World Bank admits that in the last three years, none of the forest area taxes paid by companies have reached forest communities. Greenpeace has obtained contracts (6) between logging companies and communities, some offering gifts such as bags of salt and bottles of beer, worth less than $100 in exchange for logging rights worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

People reported that promises to build schools or hospitals are rarely fulfilled and that intimidation tactics are used when they try to protest against the companies.

"These contracts are a shameful relic of colonial times. Millions of hectares of the Congo rainforest have been traded away by local communities to the logging industry for gifts like salt, machetes and crates of beer while logging companies and their taxes do next to nothing for local development," concluded van Praet.

Greenpeace is calling for the cancellation of all logging titles issued since May 2002 and for the moratorium on new logging titles to be extended and enforced until the logging sector is cleaned up and controlled and a land-use plan that includes the participation of local communities is fully in place.

Other contacts: For further information or to arrange interviews with Greenpeace or NGOs working on the issue in the DRC, please call:Greenpeace International Africa Forest Campaign Co-ordinator (based in Brussels) Stephan van Praet: +32 496161580Greenpeace International Press Office (based in Europe): Matilda Bradshaw +31 653504701 or Natalia Truchi +31 646162029Greenpeace US Press Office (based in Washington): Steve Smith +1 202 465 5352

VVPR info: For video footage of the forest, local communities, logging and interviews with key stakeholders (clipreel and VNR) call Michael Nagasaka on +31 646 166 309For photographs of the DRC's forests, logging, biodiversity and Twa "pygmy" communities call John Novis on +31 6 5381 9121

Notes: (1) For copies of 'Carving up the Congo', an executive summary of the report (French and English) and graphics of logging concessions in the DRC see In accordance with the October 2005 Presidential Decree, the DRC government is currently reviewing the legality of all logging titles in the DRC. This review includes logging permits issued in violation of the 2002 moratorium. (3) The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund's spring meeting takes place on April 14-15, 2007 in Washington, D.C.(4) 25% figure - Houghton, R.A. 2003. Revised estimates of the annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use and land management 1850-2000. Tellus 55B:378-390.34.4 billion tonnes - Justice, C., Wilkie, D., Zhang, Q., Brunner, J.and C. Donoghue. 2001. Central African Forests, Carbon and Climate Change. Climate Research 17:229-246.UK comparison - WRI (2007) Climate Analysis Indicator Tools (CAIT) Version 4.0 Washington D.C. World Resources Institute. Available at Debroux, L., Hart, T., Kaimowitz, D.,Karsenty, A. and Topa, G. (eds). 2007 Forests in Post Conflict Democratic Republic of Congo: Analysis of a Priority Agenda. Copies of such contracts are available on request

Exp. contact date: 2007-06-11 00:00:00