Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture

African Union Commission

Re: Request for a discussion session of the African Union Commission on lifting of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) logging concession moratorium

Your Excellency

We are writing to request a discussion session at the African Union Commission regarding the plan of the Government of DRC to lift the moratorium on new logging concessions in place since 2002. The decision to lift the ban was approved on 9 July by the eleventh Council of Ministers, presided by Président Félix Tshisekedi. An implementation decree is believed to be imminent. 

The moratorium on new logging concessions in DRC, which represents 60 per cent of the Congo Basin forest, was put in place to prevent a post-war plunder of the forest. Twenty years later, the forest sector remains a bastion of corruption and political patronage at the highest levels. Illegality and the exploitation of local communities are the rule. The government has little or no oversight of millions of hectares of concessions often allocated in violation of the moratorium.

Lifting the moratorium officially will lead to a disaster for people, the forest, biodiversity and the climate. The DRC forest is home to 40 million inhabitants, it is a carbon sink and a biodiversity reserve of global importance. Opening about 70 million hectares of forest to logging would lead to land grabs and displacement of people. It would also likely have an impact on the quantity of rainfall throughout the region; the Congo Basin forest is estimated to contribute more than half of the annual precipitation in Sub-Saharan Africa, already facing a plethora of droughts and extreme heat waves.

The lifting of the moratorium on new logging concessions would also violate Félix Tshisekedi’s recent pledge, at Joe Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate, to increase forest cover by 8%. 

It would also  infringe the African Union 2063 Agenda, commiting to keep “Africa’s unique natural endowments, its environment and ecosystems, including its wildlife and wildlands […] healthy, valued and protected, with climate resilient economies and communities”. The AU’s 2020-2030 Sustainable Forest Management Framework (SFMF) clearly states that by 2063 Africa will have zero deforestation and forest degradation and its forests will be protected, sustainably managed and restored through collaborative, cross-sectoral and transformative efforts to ensure the prosperity, food security and resilience of its people.

Greenpeace Africa is particularly alarmed by the risks posed to Indigenous People and local communities and biodiversity in the DRC, as well as the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, whose climate is fundamentally linked to the state of Central Africa’s forests. Deciding on whether to protect or destroy the rainforest may be within the DRC’s sovereignty, but the consequences of new logging in DRC could be felt everywhere from Nairobi to Dakar, from Pretoria to Abuja. 

Needless to say, a possible lifting of the moratorium now, when the DRC presides over the AU, represents a huge reputational risk for the body. 

As the commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, we urge you to convene an urgent meeting on this matter. Greenpeace Africa would be glad to provide any additional data and information, as may be needed for the commission and the African Union in general. 

Yours sincerely, 

Melita Steele 

Interim Programme Director, Greenpeace Africa 

Email: [email protected] 

Tel: +27 72 560 8703

Greenpeace Campaigner in the Democratic Republic of Congo. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace Get Involved ×