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No New Logging In Congolese Rainforests

No New Logging In Congolese Rainforests

Greenpeace urges international community to help Congo explore alternatives to logging

Kinshasa / Brussels, 11 November 2004-On the eve of a major international conference (1) on the future of Congo's (DRC) rainforests, Greenpeace urges the international community to help the Congolese government protect its rainforests and the millions of people who depend on it.

Greenpeace warns that rather than alleviate poverty, the further expansion of industrial logging in a context of poor governance is more likely to fuel corruption and social conflicts and will increase environmental destruction. (2). Instead of allocating new timber concessions, the Government of Congo and the international community should support the Global Reform of DRC of which the clean up of the timber industry and finding viable alternatives to industrial logging are key components.

"The expansion of industrial logging in the DRC is bad news for the environment and the people of Congo," says Filip Verbelen, Forest campaigner for Greenpeace. "Experience from other countries in the Congo Basin such as Cameroon clearly shows that it is extremely difficult to control the multiple negative impacts of logging such as the illegal bushmeat trade, illegal timber trade and social conflicts. Even when multilateral agencies such as the World Bank put serious conditions in place for the forestry sector, they often turn a blind eye when implementation proves to be poor."

With the return of peace to the DRC, the forestry sector is in full reform with assistance of the World Bank and the FAO. The Congolese government is developing new laws for forest management and for nature conservation. A land use planning process has started which will determine the fate of the Congolese rainforests.
In may 2002, the Congolese government declared a moratorium on the allocation of new logging operations. Unfortunately, between May 2002 and May 2003, logging concessions covering more than 6 million hectares have been allocated in violation of this moratorium. These developments undermine all attempts to reform the forestry sector. Illegally allocated concessions should be cancelled . The moratorium should stay in place untill the government has the capacity to manage the forestry sector and untill a clear trend of improved governance has been demonstrated. Land use planning needs to fully involve the local people.

Greenpeace fears that logging will become a dominant economic activity in the DRC without contributing to community development. The World Bank predicts that DRC could become the largest African hardwood exporter within the next 10 years. Upto 60 million hectares of rainforest-area 20 times the size of Belgium-is potentially suitable for logging.
"The last large intact rainforest of Africa are no place for further experimentation. It is important that the Congolese government and the donor community wake up to reality and acknowledge the very negative track record of industrial logging in the rest of the Congo Basin and intensify their efforts to look for alternatives to industrial logging to protect these biodiverse rainforests and the people that depend on them."

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Notes to editors:
(1) On November 13th, the Congolese government and the World Bank organise a major "Forest Forum" in Kinshasa about the reform of the DRC forest sector. The meeting coincides with an international donor conference on november 11th - 12th

(2) The DRC rainforests cover some 100 million hectares. This is the 2nd largest rainforest in the world, after the Amazon and the most biodiverse forest region in Africa. The country harbours 3 out of 4 Great Ape Species (chimpansee, Bonobo and Gorilla) and harbours rare species such as the Okapi and the Congo Peacock that are found nowhere else in the world.

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