While delegates from the Congolese Government, donor community
and civil society prepare for the Brussels conference on 'The
sustainable management of the forests of the DRC' next week (2),
more than 21 million hectares of rainforest are now allocated to
the logging industry, an area nearly seven times the size of
The DRC Government introduced a moratorium on the allocation,
extension and renewal of logging titles in May 2002, yet it has
been widely violated. With evidence of ongoing illegal forest
operations and with a new urgency to fund alternatives to
deforestation in the face of climate change, Greenpeace
International demands that the DRC government, World Bank and other
donors take urgent action to stop the expansion of the logging
industry in the DRC's rainforests.
'While key players gather to discuss the future of the DRC's
rainforests, if these forests are to have much of a future the
logging industry must be contained. This means cancelling all
titles in breach of the 2002 moratorium and extending this
moratorium to stop the grabbing of the forests dynamic in DRC. We
now need new funding mechanisms from donors to stop deforestation
in the Congo", said Stephan Van Praet, Greenpeace International
Africa Forest Campaign co-ordinator.
Greenpeace today highlights a particular example of one company
who has breached the 2002 moratorium. ITB (Industrie de
transformation de bois) is actively logging in the region of Lac
Tumba, with two logging permits covering 294,000 ha of forests.
Both permits were issued after May 2002 in breach of the 2002
moratorium (3). The company logs with no forest management plan as
it extracts high value species such as Wenge for export to the
European market (4).
The area being logged, near Bikoro, Equator province, is part of
the Lake Tumba region, identified by international donors as a
priority region for conservation (5).The forests of the region are
a critical habitat for the endangered bonobo and other threatened
species such as forest elephants and hippopotamus. The area is also
home to numerous communities of Twa 'pygmies' and Bantus.
ITB claims to be making a positive contribution to local
communities. Meantime, the few forestry officials charged with
overseeing logging companies in the area have no vehicles or other
equipment to monitor forestry operations and need to count on the
goodwill of the logging companies to even reach logging sites
"Logging companies promise us wonders: work, schools, hospitals,
but actually, they seem to be only interested in their own short
term profits. What will happen when our forests have been emptied?
They will leave and we'll be the ones left with damaged roads,
schools with no roofs and hospitals without medicine" said Pasteur
Matthieu Yela Bonketo, co-ordinator of CEDEN, a Congolese NGO
active in Equateur province who will be in Brussels for next weeks
'Industrial logging doesn't bring benefits. The "pygmies" who
totally depend our forests and the local communities who live in
them are suffering because of the presence of the industry", he
Greenpeace is demanding that all forest titles allocated in
breach of the 2002 moratorium, including ITB's, are cancelled
through the ongoing legality review of all logging titles and an
extension of the moratorium until comprehensive land use planning
and sufficient governance capacity is in place in DRC forest
VVPR info: Stephan van Praet, Greenpeace Campaign Coordinator: +32 496161580 Media Officer, Natalia Truchi , +31 646162029 Pictures of logging, biodiversity and Twa "pygmy" communities are available upon request.
Notes: 1. In 2002 a ruling was issued by the DRC Environment Minister setting up a moratorium on the allocation, renewal or extension of logging titles. Its validity was re-confirmed by Presidential Decree in 2005. Greenpeace therefore considers all titles issued, extended or renewed since this moratorium as illegal. 2. The conference will be held at 'Palais de Egmont' Brussels, further details http://www.confordrc.org/view.php3. Prior to the May 2002 moratorium, ITB had one logging > > permit. Between 2002 and 2005 this was 'exchanged' for two larger permits covering a greater area in a different location. The company now has two titles in the Lake Tumba area, one of 214,700 ha and the other of 80,064 ha.4. Greenpeace investigations during the past five months have identified ITB timber at ports in France, Belgium and Italy and have also confirmed that ITB timber from DRC is purchased and traded by Interholco, part of the German/Swiss Danzer Group.5. The area was identified by the Congo Basin Forest Partnership because of 'outstanding biodiversity because they encompass intact populations of larger mammals (e.g., elephant and gorilla in forest wilderness) or because they represent important and distinctive habitats and communities of species.' http://www.cbfp.org/docs_gb/forest_state.pdf6. A Greenpeace field visit in October 2006 confirmed active logging by ITB in the Lake Tumba region and documented the facilities of the local forest authorities.