Report | June 26, 2018

Total Systems Failure

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Our new investigation reveals systemic illegal logging by a major European company in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Norway and France are on the brink of funding expansion of the country’s industrial logging sector.

Download the full investigation (PDF)

Our two-year investigation reveals that European company Norsudtimber – the biggest single owner of logging concessions covering over 40,000 km2 of rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – is operating illegally on 90% of its sites.

At the same time, Norway and France are planning to fund an US$18 million programme, which includes backing the expansion of industrial logging in DRC and support to Norsudtimber – which is headquartered in the Alpine tax haven of Liechtenstein. This directly contradicts both countries’ climate and forest protection goals.

Expanding industrial logging in DRC’s rainforest could generate 35 million tonnes of extra CO2 emissions per year, thereby accelerating climate change.

China, Vietnam, France and Portugal are also all failing to stop Norsudtimber’s illegal timber trading: 78% of its timber exports went to Vietnam and China between 2013 and 2017, 11% went to Europe, with the majority going to Portugal and France. Almost 60% of the timber exported comes from endangered or vulnerable tree species.

The report “Total Systems Failure” shows how a global web of secrecy – made up of tax havens and shell companies listed in Liechtenstein, Dubai and Hong Kong – is facilitating this illegal international trade whilst protecting three Portuguese brothers at the head of the company from scrutiny. Norsudtimber’s detailed response to the allegations is included in Global Witness’ report. 

Download the full investigation here (PDF)

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