Forests Action on Illegal Timber in Antwerp

Greenpeace activists discover a consignment of illegally logged timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Antwerp port and display a banner reading "Stop Forest Crime!". © Philip Reynaers / Greenpeace

In September, we reported on The Future Of Forests In Poetry competition that Greenpeace Africa is holding in the DRC as an initiative to educate and mobilize the Congolese youth to preserve their precious trees.

The first leg of this competition took place earlier this month in Oshwe, in the Bandudu Province of the DRC. It saw Greenpeace activists being warmly welcomed by villagers and youths across the town and was deemed a great success.

Launching the contest

Greenpeace activists were greatly surprised by the enthusiasm the youth showed in the forest intiative when it launched on 1 October. While the competition had originally only been open to 14 - 21 year olds, and yet, some avid 12 and 13 year olds did not hesitate to compete.

Even more exciting was that, with a plan to visit 17 villages locally, Greenpeace hoped the receive about 200 poems from the area. In an overwhelming response, we ended up receiving 668 entries!

Selecting the winning poems

Six judges, in cooperation with Greenpeace team members, read through every entry, and selected the 42 strongest poems. Out of this group, seven award winners were chosen.

First prize was awarded to Christelle Ekelo Bolongo, a student at the Technical Institute of Oshwe, aged 17. A special prize was awarded to Lawrence Mulumba, a student who spontaneously recited a forest poem at the award ceremony.

Political and military authorities, youth, parents, teachers and principals all welcomed this poetry initiative, which is a first in the history of Oshwe.

Messages from the youth

The following topics of import arose from the entries:

- Longed-for changes in the use and management of the forest.

- Their involvement and their determination to preserve the forest.

- The importance of the forest communities.

- The claims of forest communities facing the industrial exploitation of their homes.

These poems are real cries of the heart of the youth who see the future of the forest and by extension, their own futures being jeopardized by unsustainable forest management.

The second leg of the competition is currently taking place in Kinshasa, the DRC’s capital. Those looking to enter still can e-mail their poems to Augustine Kasambule at .