A group of national and international NGOs, including Fern, have issued a statementwarning that plans by the Democratic Republic of Congo to lift a moratorium on new logging concessions threatens to cause environmental destruction, social abuses and corruption in the world’s second largest tropical rainforest, and undermine efforts to prevent climate change.
The statement follows comments from the DRC’s Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development, Robert Bopolo Mbongeza, that “measures are underway” to lift the moratorium on the allocation of new industrial logging concessions imposed in 2002.
National and international non-governmental organisations believe that lifting the moratorium would likely “unleash a tidal wave of environmental destruction, social abuses and corruption in the world’s second largest tropical rainforest and could seriously undermine the efforts to conserve DRC’s forests as a contribution to preventing climate change”.
The NGOs conclude that:
- Expanding industrial logging would greatly exacerbate the existing social and environmental problems caused by industrial logging.
- The DRC government clearly does not have the capacity to govern the forest sector.
- Industrial logging continues to be a vector of corruption and violence, and contributes astonishingly little to state coffers.
- None of the World Bank’s preconditions for lifting the moratorium appears to have been met.
- Lifting the moratorium would cause immense damage to the credibility of DRC’s REDD efforts.
“In order to avoid the problems of the past, the DRC government could instead focus on scaling down the logging industry, intensifying law enforcement and supporting alternative, pro-poor and climate-friendly approaches to forest management. Collective efforts should now be channelled towards necessary reforms such as participatory land-use planning and the implementation of the new Community Forest Law, which has been welcomed by international donors and civil society alike,” the statement says.
“Without such an approach, efforts towards becoming a pioneer in REDD projects are likely to founder.”