Statement from Global Witness, Greenpeace, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Rainforest Foundation UK, Réseau des Ressources Naturelles, Groupe de Travail sur le Climat REDD Rénové, and Environmental Investigation Agency.
We are alarmed that, as it speaks at COP23 on behalf of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations on the importance of protecting its forests, the government of DRC has held a meeting in Kinshasa on 10 November to start a process that would lead to the destruction of large areas of the Congolese forest, in contravention of its own forestry laws and Presidential decree.
The meeting, convened by the Congolese Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, considered lifting the long-standing national moratorium on the allocation of new industrial logging concessions, which for some years has restrained DRC’s chaotic and often illegal logging industry and helped to keep the country’s forests relatively intact.
An expansion of industrial logging following the lifting of the moratorium would unleash a tidal wave of environmental destruction, social abuses and corruption in the world’s second largest tropical rainforest. It would also create a significant increase in carbon emissions, including from the recently discovered and extensive peat deposits which underlay many areas of DRC’s forest.
This would make a mockery of efforts of the international community to improve forest governance in DRC, work with and fund the government of DRC to protect its forests and peat swamps, as well as DRC’s leadership of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.
We call on the DRC government to renounce its plans to move towards a lifting of its logging moratorium, to state that it will retain the moratorium, and to cancel and publish details of any agreement with companies on the allocation of new concessions. We encourage the international community to support the DRC government to immediately cancel the five million hectares of logging concessions in the country which are currently operating without management plans and are therefore illegal.
Jo Blackman, Forests Advocacy and Policy Team Leader
+44 (0)7912 517 126