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
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 http://www.greenpeace.org/congoreport(2) 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 http://cait.wri.org/(5) 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. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/BCIFOR0701.pdf(6) Copies of such contracts are available on request
Exp. contact date: 2007-06-11 00:00:00