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DRC government suspends logging company after civil society reports illegal rainforest logging

05 December 2019

A major illegal logging operation [1] has been halted by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) government following monitoring by local non-governmental organisations and multiple complaints by forest communities.

The DRC environment minister, last Friday (29th November), instructed the governor of the Tshopo Province to suspend the logging permit of the Chinese-owned
FODECO [1] in Basoko Territory following reports from local communities, alongside other communities in Equateur Province, who have received training in monitoring and the detection of illegalities [2] from Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) and local partner organisation, GASHE [3].

Civil society group SOCIPEQ [4] has, yesterday, written a letter [5] to DRC’s Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, to call on him to enforce the forestry laws across the country, drawing in particular his attention to the situation of the Equateur province where severe illegalities have been reported.

Joseph Bolongo, from GASHE, said "The Minister should avoid ‘double standards’. The illegalities committed by FODECO have not been as extensively documented as those committed by other companies such as Maniema Union  2, now known as Long Xin, in Equateur Province. Time has come for national authorities to put an end to this anarchy which has been documented and condemned by civil society for a long time now.”

RFUK’s DRC Coordinator, Ana Osuna Orozco, said the government’s action in suspending FODECO shows that communities and civil society can have an important role helping to protect DRC’s forests, but that much more action is needed.

“This is a positive step in the right direction but much wider efforts are needed to tackle  deeply rooted governance problems and outright corruption across DRC’s logging industry,” said Ms Osuna Orozco.

”The international community needs to understand that these illegalities are likely to massively increase if the timber industry is granted wider access to DRC’s rainforests,” she concluded.

[1] Forestière pour le Développement du Congo (FODECO).
[2] Supported by the UK Department for International Development.
[3] GASHE (Groupe d’action pour sauver l’homme et son environnement), RFUK’s local partner, is located in Mbandaka, Equateur Province, DRC. The charity aims to protect the environment and its resources whilst encouraging human development of those who live there, such as forest and indigenous communities. We have worked with GASHE since 2012 on issues such as community forestry, real-time forest monitoring and sustainable conservation.
[4] Société Civile de la Province de l’Équateur. The mission of SOCIPEQ is to represent the population in fighting for the improvement of governance in the DRC for a harmonious and inclusive development.
[5] Letter

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