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No new logging in green heart of Africa

No new logging in green heart of Africa

Congolese President vows to clean up logging industry

DRC/Paris 28 October 2005 -- Greenpeace welcomed a decree (1) by President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to reform the Congolese logging sector this week.

New logging concessions will be frozen in up to 40 million hectares of rainforest while the legality of all current logging concessions are examined by an inter-ministerial commission, assisted by a team of independent, international experts. If the review is conducted properly, Greenpeace expects that many of the 20 million hectares already slated for logging in DRC will be returned to the state.

The Congo rainforest is the second largest in the world after the Amazon. It is home to more plant and animal life than any other forest in Africa, including rare species such as the Okapi and the Congo Peacock that are found nowhere else in the world. It is also a refuge for three of the four Great Apes - chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas.

"This welcome move will give the Congo rainforest breathing space while corrupt and illegal logging companies are weeded out. Widespread illegal and badly managed logging not only decimates the rainforest but causes social conflicts. It also pushes chimpanzees and gorillas towards extinction and exacerbates the illegal trade in bushmeat," said Greenpeace International forest campaigner, Filip Verbelen.
Greenpeace has been investigating logging in the Congo and discovered that it does not contribute to sustainable development and prosperity, as the logging industry claims, but creates poverty, social conflict and wreaks environmental havoc.

"Until now, the logging industry has been a law unto itself, destroying the rainforest to supply wood to Europe, Asia and the USA. This decree is an important first step towards responsible and socially just forest management, but this will only be achieved in this post-conflict country with assistance from the international community," said Verbelen.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization, which uses non-violent, creative communication tools to put the spotlight on global environmental problems and to drive towards solutions essential for a green and peaceful future.


Notes to Editors:
(1) President Kabila has confirmed the moratorium on the allocation of new logging concessions will be maintained until a process to review the legality of all existing logging concessions is finalised and until new rules for allocation of concessions have been defined. A copy of the decree is available on request (only in French).

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