Democratic Republic of Congo / PARIS - Greenpeace welcomed a decree (1) by
President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to reform the
Congolese logging sector this week.
New logging concessions will be frozen in up to 40 million hectares of
rainforest while the legality of all current logging concessions are
examined by an inter-ministerial commission, assisted by a team of
independent, international experts. If the review is conducted properly,
Greenpeace expects that many of the 20 million hectares already slated
for logging in DRC will be returned to the state.
The Congo rainforest is the second largest in the world after the
Amazon. It is home to more plant and animal life than any other forest
in Africa, including rare species such as the Okapi and the Congo
Peacock that are found nowhere else in the world. It is also a refuge
for three of the four Great Apes - chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas.
"This welcome move will give the Congo rainforest breathing space while
corrupt and illegal logging companies are weeded out. Widespread illegal
and badly managed logging not only decimates the rainforest but causes
social conflicts. It also pushes chimpanzees and gorillas towards
extinction and exacerbates the illegal trade in bushmeat," said
Greenpeace International forest campaigner, Filip Verbelen.
Greenpeace has been investigating logging in the Congo and discovered
that it does not contribute to sustainable development and prosperity,
as the logging industry claims, but creates poverty, social conflict and
wreaks environmental havoc.
"Until now, the logging industry has been a law unto itself, destroying
the rainforest to supply wood to Europe, Asia and the USA. This decree
is an important first step towards responsible and socially just forest
management, but this will only be achieved in this post-conflict country
with assistance from the international community," said Verbelen.
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization, which uses
non-violent, creative communication tools to put the spotlight on global
environmental problems and to drive towards solutions essential for a
green and peaceful future.
Notes to Editors:
(1) President Kabila has confirmed the moratorium on the allocation of
new logging concessions will be maintained until a process to review the
legality of all existing logging concessions is finalised and until new
rules for allocation of concessions have been defined. A copy of the
decree is available on request (only in French).