The DRC Vice Prime Minister, Eve Bazaiba, this week suspended twelve logging concessions, covering nearly two million hectares, following a damning government report into the state of the industry.
This welcome development comes after intense scrutiny from RFUK and other international and national organisations, but is likely to account for only a fraction of the total number of illegal concessions in the country.
The order signed by the Minister, appears to include only one-third of the concessions flagged by the General Inspectorate of Finance’s (IGF) audit as illegal. Nor does it include the concessions not covered by the IGF audit, namely the dozens without government-approved management plans and those that have been illegally handed out or converted to “conservation” concessions since May 2020.
Meanwhile, a separate and more in-depth EC-sponsored audit of logging concessions in DRC, which has been beset by delays and problems in accessing basic information on concessions, is due to be published in the coming months. There is reportedly also a parallel World Bank-led process ongoing.
Earlier this month, RFUK and Greenpeace Africa wrote to DRC’s international partners warning the industry must be brought under control including by cancelling all illegal concessions and extending the country’s national moratorium on new logging titles.
Joe Eisen, RFUK Executive Director, said “We welcome the decision of the Minister to suspend these concessions. However, this doesn’t go anywhere nearly far enough, and we now call on her to demonstrate her commitment to forest reforms by cancelling all illegal concessions. It is time to turn the page on industrial use of forests and to support the fledging community forest process and related reforms that can benefit both people and forests.”