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article imageDR Congo plans to open its rainforests to loggers

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Mar 6, 2016 in Environment
The world's second largest tract of rainforest, twice the size of Texas, is at risk of being cut down as Democratic Republic of Congo plans to lift the moratorium on industrial logging in place since 2002.
Congo had introduced a moratorium on the allocation of new logging titles in 2002, in an attempt to regain control of the country’s timber industry, which was riddled with illegal logging and corruption. The ban remained in place for most of country's rainforests although around one tenth of Congo's forests were outside the moratorium.
Recently, Robert Bopolo Bogeza, DRC’s Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development, stated that measures are being undertaken to lift the ban on the allocation of new industrial logging licenses to boost government revenues. The statement said:
The moratorium on granting new forestry concessions, decreed in 2002 by Ministerial Decree and reaffirmed in 2005 by Presidential Decree, has caused a huge shortfall in revenues for our country. Measures are underway for the Government to lift the measure.
In last year's Paris climate summit, Congo had emphasized the role of forests in its national pledge towards fighting climate change. It also promised to plant 3 million hectares with trees by 2025.
The move could affect a billion-dollar DRC proposed plan to conserve Congo Basin rainforest supported by multiple European donor countries. Simon Counsell of the Rainforest Foundation UK said:
Expansion of industrial logging in Congo’s rainforests is likely to have serious long-term negative impacts on the millions of people living in and depending on those forests. We urge the government of DRC to instead promote community based forest protection and alternatives to logging that will help the country’s population prosper.
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