For centuries fortune seekers have plundered the huge rainforest of the Congo basin in the heart of Africa, the second-largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon. Ivory, diamonds and gold have been taken and shipped to the centres of old empires and now finally, the forest itself is being torn down and sent on the same journey.
Forest on the banks of the Congo river system, Equatorial province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Greenpeace fact finding tour aimed at documenting the social and environmental impacts of industrial logging.
TAKE ACTION: Demand Mandatory Laws on Illegal
In 2002, the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC) declared a moratorium on new loggingconcessions in an attempt
to halt the widespread destruction. It didn'twork, in part due to
corruption and the continued flood of illegaltimber flowing into
consumer countries because there are still no lawsprohibiting their
Unsurprisingly, the trade in illegal timber does little to
reduce thepoverty in producer countries. The World Bank estimates
that illegallogging costs timber-producing countries between US$10
and15 billion ayear in lost revenue with this money only fuelling
the profit marginsof logging companies and their local allies.
Legality of current logging to be examined
This week, the President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila signed a
decree thatupholds the 2002 moratorium, freezing new logging
concessions in up to40 million hectares of rainforest while the
legality of all currentlogging concessions are examined. Without
international assistance toremove corrupt and illegal logging
companies from the Congoleseforestry sector and laws prohibiting
the importation of illegal timberinto consumer countries however,
this decree might not be enough.
The consumer countries of Europe, Japan and the US have been
slow tocreate the laws that would support the efforts of producer
countrieslike the DRC. As they wash their hands of any
responsibility as thepurchasers of the illegal timber, the last
ancient forests in Africaare wiped off the map.
"Until now, the logging industry has been a law unto itself,
destroyingthe rainforest to supply wood to Europe, Asia and the
USA. This decreeis an important first step towards responsible and
socially just forestmanagement, but this will only be achieved in
this post-conflictcountry with assistance from the international
community," said FilipVerbelen, Greenpeace International forest
Illegal timber flowing freely into consumer countries
In the last month, we have highlighted the ease at which illegal
anddestructively logged timber enters the consumer countries. In
Italy itwas illegal timber from Africa being unloaded in the
port of Livorno.
Spain had illegal timber from the Amazon in its prized Queen
SofiaMuseum and the
UK was caught red-handed with plywood made from illegaltimber
from the Paradise forests of Papua New Guinea.
Time and time again the answer to halting the destruction of the
lastancient forests has been clear. Laws prohibiting the
importation ofillegal and destructively logged timber into consumer
countries are thefirst step to stemming the tide of destruction in
the last of ourancient forests.
The DRC is trying to halt the destruction and protect its
forests andthe people and wildlife that depend on them. It is time
for Europe,Japan and the US to follow the lead and enact laws to
help protect thelast ancient forests.
Take action to stop illegal timber
Louis Michel believes measures to stop the importation of illegal timber into Europe should be voluntary, let him know that it is mandatory!
Support us in our work to save the forests
Become part of the solution and protect the last of our ancient forests