Industrial logging is one of the main drivers of deforestation in the tropics. Particularly in the Congo Basin, governments allocate vast expanses of pristine rainforest to logging, without recognising local communities pre-existing claims to those lands.
Roughly one quarter (50 million hectares) of the Congo Basin rainforest is currently allocated for commercial logging, an activity which brings minimal economic benefits, does not contribute to meaningful development, often causes conflict with local communities, and is widely perceived to be a nexus of corruption and illegality.
Governments struggle to monitor the activities of extractive industries and to ensure that they fulfil their social and environmental obligations. This leaves forests and forest peoples extremely vulnerable.
In DRC, home to half the Congo Basin’s remaining rainforest, a governmental moratorium on the allocation of new logging concessions has been in place since 2002.
New research demonstrates a clear link between the establishment of commercial logging operations and a cascade of deforestation. Investigating forest loss in DRC across 60 logging concessions and eight ‘control’ areas, the findings from this study show that the selective logging of high-value timber species is not a sustainable form of forest management, but rather an underlying ‘driver’ of deforestation after logging roads open up new forest areas to settlements and other uses.