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Industrial logging companies and officials are systematically abusing community logging permits in order to bypass the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) freeze on new logging concessions, says a report by Global Witness. The “Artisanal Logging Permits” are designed to allow Congolese communities to carry out small-scale logging in their forests. But in practice, they are being used by foreign loggers to exploit Congo’s forests on an industrial scale, primarily for buyers in China.
The report, entitled ‘The art of logging industrially in Congo’, finds 146 artisanal permits have been handed out to loggers in Bandundu Province alone since 2010. The way the permits are issued and used typically breaches DRC’s forest law and regulations in as many as ten different ways. All of the permits seen by Global Witness explicitly grant “the authorisation to carry out industrial logging”.
DRC’s forest law states that a maximum of two artisanal permits can be issued annually to Congolese individuals equipped with a longsaw or chainsaw. But Global Witness found that up to twelve artisanal permits are being given per year to overseas logging companies, who enter the forests with heavy machinery such as bulldozers and log loaders.