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On 24 March Greenpeace wrote to the Executive Board of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), about its silence regarding the award last January of nearly two million ha of illegal logging concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have yet to hear back from them. The Executive Board is meeting this week by videoconference.

Dear Ms. Bretas,

Let me first extend my best wishes to the Board in this time of global crisis.

We’re writing with reference to CAFI’s silence regarding the illegal award last 14 January by the DRC’s Environment Minister of nine logging concession contracts representing almost two million hectares. 

As you know, after a careful review of the contracts in question following their revelation in February, DRC civil society called for their immediate cancellation. [1] Greenpeace fully supports this demand.

CAFI funding in DRC has repeatedly failed to induce even minimum respect for forest governance.  On the contrary, it seems only to have encouraged illegality at the highest level.  Recall that a CAFI disbursement of $41.2 million to FONAREDD in October 2017 was followed by illegal title awards in 2018 unprecedented in the modern history of Congolese logging. 

We eagerly await CAFI’s public statement regarding the January 2020 contracts and request that it contain clear and detailed responses to the following concerns:

  1. Will CAFI suspend further disbursements to FONAREDD pending cancellation of these contracts, if it hasn’t done so already?
  2. Precisely which disbursements scheduled for 2020 would be affected by suspension?
  3. How much CAFI funding has been deposited to FONAREDD in the last 12 months?
  4. How much of it has gone to the AFD’s “Programme de Gestion Durable des Forêts”?
  5. When will CAFI publish a full overview of the current status, especially regarding tendering, financing and scheduling, of the legal review of titles referred to in the 5 December 2019 “Feuille de route pour le secteur forestier” it agreed to with the Ministry?

    In April 2019 Greenpeace identified 24 concessions, covering 4.5 million ha, that failed to meet your Letter of Intent’s 1 January 2019 deadline for having “approved, or at least formally and transparently submitted, management plans” within the legal time limit.  It identified 15 more concessions, covering 3 million ha, that would become illegal in 2019 for lack of a management plan[2]
  6. Which of these 39 concessions does CAFI currently consider valid? 

Thank you for your prompt reply to these concerns.

Sincerely,  

Irène Wabiwa

 [1] http://www.environews-rdc.org/2020/03/15/foret-attributions-de-9-concessions-aux-entreprises-chinoises-le-gtcr-r-hausse-le-ton/  See also https://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/press/7382/illegal-logging-concessions-should-be-urgently-cancelled-greenpeace-africa

[2]  https://www.greenpeace.org/static/planet4-africa-stateless/2019/04/bc1196f4-briefer-final-english-v3.pdf