A damning new report launched by Greenpeace today exposes that international logging companies operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are causing social chaos and wreaking environmental havoc. "Carving up the Congo" uncovers endemic corruption and impunity in the DRC's logging sector at a time when key decisions that will determine the future of these forests are about to be made.
Published as the World Bank board is set to meet in Washington, the report concludes that efforts by the Bank to control the logging industry are failing while the rainforest is being sold off under the illusion that logging alleviates poverty.
The Congo rainforest is the world's second largest tropical forest after the Amazon and one of the planet's essential defences against global climate change. Global emissions from tropical deforestation alone contributes up to 25% of total annual human-induced CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. It is estimated that forest clearance in the DRC will release up to 34.4 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050, roughly equivalent to the UK's CO2 emissions over the last sixty years. (4) [please use a national comparison here]
It's crunch time for the DRC's rainforests. The international logging industry operating in the country is out of control. Unless the World Bank helps the DRC to stop the sell off of these rainforests, they'll soon be under the chainsaws said Greenpeace International Africa forest campaign co-ordinator, Stephan van Praet.
In spite of a national moratorium on logging titles since 2002, 100 logging contracts covering 15 million hectares of rainforest have been issued to the logging industry (5), an area five times the size of Belgium [please use a national comparison here]. Much of the rainforest already allocated for logging is critical for conservation and for the survival of our closest animal relatives, the bonobo and chimpanzee.
40 million people depend on the DRCìs rainforest. Few benefit from logging. The World Bank admits that in the last three years, none of the logging taxes paid by companies have reached forest communities. Greenpeace has obtained contracts (6) that logging companies have pushed onto these communities. Some offer gifts such as bags of salt and bottles of beer, worth less than $100 in exchange for logging rights worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. People reported that promises to build schools or hospitals are rarely fulfilled and that intimidation tactics are used when they try to protest against the companies.
These contracts are a shameful relic of colonial times. Millions of hectares of the Congo rainforest have been traded away to the logging industry for gifts like salt, machetes and crates of beer while logging companies and their taxes do next to nothing for local development concluded van Praet.
Greenpeace is calling for the cancellation of all logging titles issued since May 2002 and for the moratorium on new logging titles to be extended and enforced until the logging sector is cleaned up and controlled and a land-use plan that includes the participation of local communities is fully in place.