Almost all of the logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo is illegal, says a new report by the UK-based think tank, Chatham House. Though the figure of 87% is a startling one, it is not surprising for those of us here at Greenpeace who have been working on forestry issues in the Congo Basin.
We welcome the findings of the study as they underpin and reinforce much of the work we have been doing, along with organisations like Global Witness and local NGOs, to combat what is the“organised chaos” of the DRC’s logging sector.
Of the experts Chatham House interviewed for the study, the bulk said that between 60 and 80 per cent of logging in the country is estimated to be illegal. This is the highest proportion of any of the countries researched.
These specialists also consider illegal logging as the main driver of forest degradation and deforestation – and a whopping 80% of respondents in the Chatham House survey said that it is also a main cause of “negative social impacts” on forest communities.
Sadly none of these eye-catching statistics come as a surprise to me. I have been working in the DRC for more than a decade witnessing illegal and destructive logging first hand. I have seen companies operate with impunity, seen intact forest landscapes destroyed and seen first-hand how it is local residents who pay the largest price.
I have campaigned for a long time with my colleagues throughout Europe on the illegal timber trade and recently, one case led to the confiscation of a batch of illegal endangered Wengé wood in Germany. This is the strongest enforcement so far of the EU’s new Timber Regulation (EUTR) that came into force last year.