New DR Congo legislation undermines COP pledges on forest protection

Press release - December 17, 2015
Kinshasa, December 17 2015 - A damaging new forest law in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will threaten the livelihoods of communities and contradicts all the public promises made by the government at the recent COP 21 climate summit in Paris to protect the forests of the world’s second-largest rainforest, according to Greenpeace Africa.

The so-called 050 law was signed in September and contains many provisions that are contrary to the spirit of the country’s community forestry decree that aims to allow residents to manage their own forests. Although limits are set on concession sizes, there is no specified limit on the amount of wood to be exploited.

“The 050 forestry law was drawn up by the government without any requisite participatory process and therefore is purely the will of the environment ministry,” said Victorine Sirri Che Thöner, the head of Greenpeace Africa’s Congo Forest campaign.

“It could result in a drastic reduction in the geographical space available for community forestry, and could easily be used by unscrupulous individuals and companies to bypass the moratorium on the allocation of logging concessions that has been in place since 2002.”

The new law has met with opposition from both local and international civil society groups.Greenpeace has launched a petition for the law to be repealed that has already seen thousands sign up.

It has been introduced at a time when the DRC and other Congo Basin countries have signed up to ambitious international deals aimed at protecting their forested areas in exchange for funding from donors.

The DRC has signed up with five other African countries to the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), which has received pledges of at least $240 million, led by Norway. At COP 21 donor support for DRC forest projects was reaffirmed.

However, missing from the DRC’s proposal for CAFI investment was the inclusion of industrial logging as a key driver of deforestation.

“Initiatives to protect the vast remaining forests of the Congo Basin and the people who depend upon them are always welcome,” said Che Thöner. “But donors and Congo Basin governments have a duty to ensure that words are backed up by concrete actions on the ground.”

“The DRC’s new forest legislation runs counter to everything the government expressed in Paris and therefore needs to be repealed if the country’s authorities are serious about forest protection and governance.”

The DRC is home to the majority of the Congo Basin rainforest, the second largest in the world after the Amazon. It is home to hundreds of thousands of people and a huge array of wildlife and biodiversity and plays a key role in regulating the global climate.

However it faces numerous threats, not least among them industrial-scale illegal logging. A study by the British think tank Chatham House estimated that as much as 90% of all logging activities in the DRC were illegal.

Tell the Congolese Government: Stop the new and damaging forest law "050"!!


Notes for editors:

[1] Click here to access the Greenpeace Africa petition to repeal Forest Law 050

[2] Click here for pictures of the Congo Basin

[3] Click here to access 050 order (in French)

Press Contacts:

Najia Bounaim, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Africa, ">, +90 531 836 86 35, +27 799 304 743

Victorine Sirri Che Thöner, Project Leader, Congo Basin Forests, Greenpeace Africa, +237 6766 21651