Kinshasa, April 8, 2024 – At a time when the DRC is buzzing with wild rumors about Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba’s possible role in a new government, Greenpeace Africa is calling on her to explain her award last year of hundreds of thousands of hectares of so-called “conservation” concessions in excess of the legal limit.

On March 4, 2023, she awarded four concessions, including at least one in her electoral district, to subsidiaries of Wildlife Works Carbon (WWC), a powerful – and highly controversial – American carbon company. 

The surface area of three of these concessions totals 771,125 ha.  The area of the fourth is unknown: DRC’s Official Journal indicates that it’s 282,295 ha, but the location data points provided are incoherent.  

The Forestry Code stipulates that “forests with a total area of more than 500,000 hectares, together or separately, may not be conceded to the same [natural or legal] person.” Concession contracts covering an area in excess of 300,000 ha are approved by presidential order, those in excess of 400,000 ha by a law passed by the National Assembly. 

“The Minister didn’t respond to our request for clarification. Concession n°001/23, near Basoko (Tshopo Province), was awarded to the Société de restauration forestière et d’aménagement (SORFA). According to its articles of association, WWC owns 70% of the company, Prof. Jean-Robert Bwangoy, director of WWC operations in Congo, 10%, and his cousin, a certain Meize Mompongo, 20%,” states Greenpeace Africa.

Prof. Bwangoy told Greenpeace he had asked Ms. Mompongo “to represent the communities” living near the SORFA concessions.  He failed to specify how she could do so, without an apparent conflict of interest, when she is a member of the company director’s family.

“But which concessions was he referring to?  During last December’s legislative elections, Ms. Mompongo was first deputy for a candidate not in Tshopo Province but in Bikoro (Equateur Province). As for the uncle of Prof. Bwangoy, the latter asserts that ‘the two SORFA concessions’ are ‘exactly located in his community,’” continues Greenpeace Africa.

SORFA clearly inspires great confidence in the Ministry.  The company applied for legal registration on March 16, 2023: Mrs. Bazaiba had signed its concession contracts almost two weeks earlier. 

The other two WWC subsidiaries that received concessions on March 4, 2023 are Ecosystem Restoration Associates Congo (ERA Congo) (188,835 ha, Basankusu territory (Equateur Province)) and WWC Congo (299,995 ha, Businga territory (Nord Ubangi Province)).

Each of the four WWC contracts comes with the same little bonus: “The concessionaire is exempt from the provisions of article 82 of the Forestry Code relating to bank guarantees or security deposits.”  

“Other concessions may have been awarded to WWC.  In violation of the agreement the DRC signed in 2021 with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) at COP26 in Glasgow – a deal worth $500 million – the Ministry of the Environment has still not published ‘all […] conservation […] concession contracts […] on a publicly available internet site.’  The DRC pledged to do so ‘by the end of 2022,’” recalls Greenpeace Africa. 

In an interview on March 5, the Minister recounted an incident in which she was forced to refuse to sign a conservation concession contract with a foreign company because the area requested exceeded the legal limit.  

“According to the Minister, the company was seeking to acquire ‘500 million hectares.’  A surprising claim when one considers that the total surface area of the DRC is only 234 million hectares,” concludes Greenpeace Africa. 


For further information, please contact: Raphaël Mavambu, Media and Communications, Greenpeace Africa, [email protected]