Greenpeace Africa Responds to Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Amy Ambatobe

Press release - February 27, 2018
In response to Minister Ambatobe’s statement, reported by RFI, in which he states that the moratorium does not concern the reinstated concessions, Greenpeace Africa Senior Forest Manager, Irene Wabiwa said:

“In July 2017, Mr Ambatobe cancelled the concessions which had been reinstated to société industrielle forestière du congo (SIFORCO) by former Minister Robert Bopolo because he claimed that they were illegal. It is therefore contradictory for Mr Ambatobe to turn around and reinstate other concessions to Chinese-owned SOMIFOR and FODECO with the same status as SIFORCO. These reallocations or reinstatements constitute a violation of the moratorium and are illegal.

“Mr Ambatobe says the moratorium concerns only forest concessions not yet exploited. But the reinstated concessions have previously been exploited before their suspension. As such, their reinstatement falls within the moratorium and Mr Ambatobe’s action is not only in breach of the moratorium but of the Congolese law and Letter Of Intent with the Central Africa Forest Initiative (CAFI). Indeed, Article 23, paragraph 2 of the Presidential Decree No. 05/116 of October 2005 establishing the moratorium "covers any acquisition of right of exploitation, including exchange, relocation or rehabilitation of former forest titles."

“SOMIFOR and FODECO forest concession overlap with the peatlands which Mr Ambatobe and the DRC government have promised to protect. It is also unacceptable that while the government of DR Congo and the Republic of Congo are working to safeguard the peatlands, Mr. Ambatobe and the Chinese partners are violating the laws to the detriment of these same peatlands and local communities.

Donors like CAFI should be alarmed by Mr. Ambatobe’s disturbing interpretation of the moratorium, which comes down to a licence to hand out for logging more than 3 million hectares of the Congo Basin’s precious rainforest, partly overlapping with peatlands.

Media contact: 

; Greenpeace Africa Senior Forest Campaign Manager; +243976756102