While world leaders met at COP23 to discuss plans to tackle climate change, Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) environment ministry started a process to lift the 15-year-old moratorium on the allocation of new industrial logging concessions.
They also announced that they would be allocating two million hectares of forest to a previously unheard-of company in return for financial support for lifting the moratorium, in contravention of their own forest laws.
International and Congolese NGOs mobilised to oppose the move and draw international attention to DRC’s plans which would have had a disastrous ecological, social and climatic impact on the world’s second largest tropical rainforest. The DRC environment minister subsequently backtracked and stated that the moratorium would remain in place, until the conditions set out in the Presidential decree were met and commitments to donors honoured.
Jo Blackman, Global Witness Campaign Leader, said: “Global Witness welcomes the announcement by the DRC Environment Minister that the moratorium on the allocation on new industrial logging concessions will remain in place. However, DRC’s government has been silent on their plans to allocate two million hectares of the forest in contravention of their own forest laws. They should cancel the deal and publish full details of what was agreed. DRC’s government should also cancel all concessions without management plans which are therefore operating illegally.”
Jo added: “Donor governments should not support any moves to the lift DRC’s moratorium nor expand industrial logging which would increase carbon emissions and undermine global efforts to tackle climate change.”
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