DRC national logging moratorium must be extended indefinitely following damning audit of the industry logging
April 7, 2022
Rainforest Foundation UK and Greenpeace Africa have today called on the DRC government and its international partners to extend the national logging moratorium indefinitely, following a damning official report that lays bare the lawlessness and impunity in the country’s timber industry.
After several delays, the DRC Environment Ministry last week finally published an audit by General Inspectorate of Finance’s (IGF) into the legality and tax compliance of logging companies in the country as part of a USD500 million forest protection agreement with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).
The audit provides a shocking insight into the state of the industry in the world’s second largest tropical forest. Among its many findings are that no less than 18 concessions were awarded in violation of the national logging moratorium, including to a high-level military figure, and that the industry has been a source of personal enrichment for successive environment ministers while millions of dollars in taxes have gone unpaid.
In a letter to CAFI and the Inter-donor Group for the Environment in DRC (GIBE), RFUK and Greenpeace highlight that the report offers only a snapshot of the true chaos in the industry. For instance, the auditors could only locate a "very limited" number of companies, the majority of addresses being "inaccurate or simply non-existent." Nor did it cover several violations covering millions of hectares that occurred after May 2020 or touch on the widespread human and environmental cost of industrial logging as frequently reported by independent civil society and community monitors, including through RFUK’s ForestLink real-time forest monitoring system.
The IGF report’s authors rightly call for the upholding of the ban on new concessions in the country that has been increasingly threatened in recent years. Last year, the DRC government pulled back from the brink of lifting the 20-year logging moratorium only after an intense international campaign involving 44 NGOs, dozens of scientists and over 100,000 signatories to an online petition. However, the CAFI agreement signed by President Tshisekedi and Prime Minister Johnson at COP26 opened the door to a possible lifting of the moratorium in the near future. Meanwhile a commitment made by the President in October 2021 to cancel all “dubious” concessions has still not happened.
Joe Eisen, RFUK Executive Director, said
“How the DRC government and its international partners respond to this damning report will be a litmus test of the credibility of the CAFI agreement that was hailed as a landmark deal for Congolese forests and the climate just five months ago in Glasgow. They must now act swiftly to review and cancel all illegal concessions, hold perpetrators accountable, extend the moratorium indefinitely and programme a far higher level of support to frontline forest communities.”