Brazzaville, 26 March 2018: Greenpeace Africa recognises the steps made by the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo who organised the Global Peatland Initiative’s third meeting in Brazzaville from 21-23 March. While both countries are making statements to show commitment to protect the recently discovered peatland on their territory, recent developments on the ground show that industrial activities are already taking place which pose an alarming threat to those peatland areas.
Greenpeace Africa recently revealed that the DRC Minister of Environment, Amy Ambatobe, illegally awarded three logging concessions to the Chinese-owned logging companies Forestière pour le Développement du Congo (FODECO) and Société La Millénaire Forestière (SOMIFOR) on 1 February 2018. The concessions cover an area of 650.000 hectares – two of which overlap with peatlands.
According to the experts on the Congo Basin peatlands, industrial logging in and around the peatlands is among the top threats to these vulnerable wetlands storing more than 30 billion tons of carbon. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment recently announced that they would lift the moratorium on industrial logging permits, which would spell an uncontrollable expansion of the country’s logging sector and undermine many international forest protection efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We are working closely with University of Leeds scientists who revealed that the Congo Basin harbours a vast area of peatlands (14 million hectares), shared between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, representing only 10 % of the Congo Basin rainforest area but estimated to store the equivalent to the US’s fossil fuel emission in 15 years. The preservation of the Congo Basin Forest and its peatlands is vital for the millions of people depending on it and for ensuring the planet’s climate stability.” said Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Greenpeace Africa Senior Campaign Manager.
Last month, President Kabila signed an ordinance approving a trading agreement between the DRC, l’Association Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SONAHYDROCoc) and Compagnie Minière du Congo (COMICO). In this agreement, the blocks designated for oil exploration cover approximately 1,460,000 hectares, mainly located in DRC’s “cuvette centrale”. Oil exploration and related industrial activities in this area would spell environmental disaster as a large part of the area overlaps with the peatland areas and also overlap in part with the Salonga National park – a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site where oil exploration is prohibited. Moreover, as shown in the ATAMA case, at least one concession agreement has also been approved for the construction of an oil palm plantation in the Republic of Congo, which would take up 4,200 Km2 of forested peatlands.
“Greenpeace Africa is alarmed by these developments. We call on both governments of DRC and RoC to protect these peatlands by cancelling any current and future industrial activities in these areas and keeping the moratorium on logging permits in place,” Irène Wabiwa Betoko concluded.
– Irène Wabiwa Betoko,
Greenpeace Africa Senior Forest Manager,
Email: [email protected]
– Capucine Dayen
International Communications Coordinator, Congo Basin Forest
Email: [email protected]
Tel: + 33647971819
Pictures and maps of the Congo Basin peatlands and pictures of the scientific expeditions by researchers of Leeds university are available upon request.