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.


  • Together with an alliance of international and local partners, RFUK has led an ongoing campaign to maintain a moratorium on new logging concessions in DRC since 2002, preventing as much as 70 million hectares of forest being opened up to the logging industry.
  • In July 2017, we alerted the international community to the potential environmental impacts of allowing new logging concessions in DRC, drawing particular attention to the vulnerability of the country’s carbon-rich peat swamps. The need to protect the forested peat swamps was then raised at the United Nations COP23 climate summit and has resulted in a special unit being set up within the DRC government, as well as ongoing international dialogue on the issue.
  • Also in 2017, our supporters helped us urgently challenge a proposal to hand over 20 million hectares of the Congo’s rainforest to logging companies. Our online petition gathered an amazing 130,000 signatures, helping us to stall this dangerous project.

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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.