Greenpeace Uncovers Illegal Carve-up of Congo Rainforests

Feature story - February 23, 2007
The second largest rainforest in the world sits in the Congo basin of Africa. About half of this forest, still largely intact, lies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In this country alone, but today, more than 51 million acres of this pristine forest are now allocated to the logging industry. We've released new evidence of widespread illegal logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in violation of a moratorium.

The DRC Government introduced a moratorium in 2002, on the allocation, extension and renewal of logging titles, but it has been widely violated. Greenpeace is demanding that the DRC government, World Bank, and other donors take urgent action to stop the expansion of the logging industry in Congo's rainforests, and to fund alternatives to deforestation, in the face of ongoing illegal forest operations and climate change.

The DRC Rainforest is a critical habitat for the endangered bonobo (man's closest relative) and other threatened species such as forest elephants and hippopotamus. DRC forests have also been identified as critical for the livelihoods of an estimated 40 million rural people.

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We are highlighting 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 726,489 acres of forests. Both permits were issued after May 2002, in breach of the moratorium. ITB logs with no forest management plan as it extracts high value species such as Wenge for export to the European market.

Delegates from the DRC Government, donor community and civil society will meet in Brussels to discuss the sustainable management of the forests of the DRC. Greenpeace is demanding that all forest titles allocated in breach of the 2002 moratorium, including both of ITB's Lac Tumba titles, are cancelled through the ongoing legality review of all logging titles and an extension of the moratorium until comprehensive and participatory land use planning and sufficient governance capacity is in place in DRC forest sector.

"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, coordinator of CEDEN, a Congolese NGO active in Equateur province who will be in Brussels for the conference. "Industrial logging doesn't bring benefits. The "pygmies" who totally depend on our forests and the local communities who live in them are suffering because of the presence of the industry," he concluded.