DR Congo’s logging companies and international timber traders continue to profit from impunity

Press release - 2015-05-29
Kinshasa May 26 - Logging violations, disenfranchised local communities, the cutting of endangered tree species without valid authorisation, destruction of threatened Bonobo habitat and worldwide export of suspect timber. These are just some of the effects of the chaos being wreaked at home and abroad by one of the major industrial logging companies in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) according to a new report from Greenpeace Africa.

Trading in Chaos: The impact at home and abroad of illegal logging in the DRC documents two years of field investigations in the logging concessions of Lebanese-owned company Cotrefor as well as various ports across the world where the timber is exported and traded. The results demonstrate how the company is able to operate with total impunity, appearing to infringe numerous regulations and to treat both its own workers and local forest residents with scant regard.

"Cotrefor’s illegal and destructive logging threatens endangered species such as the Bonobo and afrormosia, as well as failing to deliver on social obligations and sustainable development. Its legacy and that of companies like it is a logged-out forest and deprived communities,” says Raoul Monsembula, Country Coordinator for the DRC with Greenpeace Africa.

“The company’s operations are symptomatic of the organised chaos that is the DRC logging sector where weak governance and corruption undermine forest protection.” (1)

Despite the chaos in its operations, Cotrefor wood is traded and exported worldwide, including to the European Union, the United States and China. EU Competent Authorities are failing to properly implement and enforce existing EU and international laws, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which are designed to prevent illegally sourced Congo Basin timber from entering the European market.

“With such impunity and weak forest governance in the DRC, it seems hardly surprising that exports of illegal and destructively sourced timber are rampant,” says Raoul Monsembula. “Yet for those exports to occur there must be traders willing to trade in timber of illegal, or at least dubious, origin, and governments in importing countries unable to implement and enforce EU and international laws to prevent those transactions".

The DRC is at the heart one of the world’s most extensive and important surviving tracts of tropical rainforest, the Congo Basin rainforest, second only to the Amazon in size and home to threatened wildlife such as the forest elephant and the bonobo, one of humanity’s closest relatives.

It is time for the DRC authorities and the timber-importing nations whose demand is fuelling this manmade disaster to recognise that their response hitherto has been inadequate, and to take decisive action to stop Cotrefor and others despoiling the rainforests of the Congo Basin.

 

Media contacts:

Raoul Monsembula, country director DRC, Greenpeace Africa
 , +243999010900

Najia Bounaim, communications manager, Greenpeace Africa,
, +905378775473